S.C. Teen Boy Forced To Remove Makeup, Told To "Look More Like A Boy" For Driver's License Photo
Chase Culpepper has a driver's license that doesn't represent how he looks on a daily basis. The South Carolina teen regularly wears makeup to school and to his job at a McDonald's in Anderson. But when the moment that all 16 year olds look forward to finally arrived, Chase was left humiliated and dehumanized; while readying to have his photo taken for his driver's licenses, the DMV told the teen to remove his makeup because he "needs to look more like a boy."
Chase has gone to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund for help, and says he didn't violate any laws. He's appealed to the DMV to have his picture re-taken so that his license reflects his physical self more accurately.
But, according to the South Carolina DMV, he shouldn't get his hopes up.
"When this young man has to show his ID, his ID shows that he's male. The card says he's male [and therefore], he needs to look like a male," said S.C. DMV spokesperson Beth Parks. Parks went on to point out the DMV hand book photo policy, which states, "At no time will an applicant be photographed when it appears that he or she is purposefully altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity." Should a trans applicant have gone through all the legal channels (birth certificate change, etc.), the DMV would honor their identity, she adds.
"This is how I am every day. And if a police officer wanted to recognize how I am, then, he would want to see who I am in my picture as well," Culpepper said, responding to the DMV policy.
While anyone can understand where the requirement for a DMV photo to show the basic look of an individual, demanding that Chase "look more like a boy" for his photo and remove the makeup he wears everyday crosses a line; it wouldn't have fundamentally changed the image, anyway. The South Carolina DMV needs to answer for its specific treatment of Chase without deferring to a boilerplate response for how it deals with gender identity.
What do you think of the DMV's handling of Chase?