SC teen made to remove makeup to get license photo at DMV

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ANDERSON, S.C. (WHNS) — An Upstate teenager was told to take off his makeup before he was allowed to get his picture taken at the DMV. However, the 16-year-old said he was not in disguise. He was dressed as who he is.

Chase Culpepper, of Anderson, was told he needed to look more like a boy before he could receive his new license.

He said he was only dressed the way he does every day to school and to his job at McDonald’s. He doesn’t think he violated any rules and now he wants the DMV to let him re-take his license picture, wearing makeup.

Culpepper got his license in March but felt like he had been singled out and mistreated at the DMV for dressing differently.

He went to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and on June 9 the group contacted the DMV explaining that Culpepper’s rights had been violated.

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson Beth Parks said it’s important for a license picture to portray who the person is legally.

“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 Parks.

She explained that if someone is transgender and changes their name and gender through the courts, the DMV will honor that change.

According to the South Carolina DMV’s photo policy, which was updated in 2009:

“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.”

Culpepper said he thinks people should be able to walk into the DMV and take a picture no matter what he or she is wearing.

“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,” said Culpepper.

His mom has stood behind him throughout and said she is appalled that her government is telling her son that he needs to conform to specific ideals of what a man should look like.

Culpepper hopes his story can be part of a movement toward change so that others don’t go through what he did.

Parks said that the staff at the DMV acted in accordance to policy. She said that Culpepper will not be allowed to take his photo with makeup because he needs to look like a male, as indicated on his legal identification.

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  • Bobbie

    If women are allowed to go in wearing a Ton of makeup that can alter the way they look as well then it should be ok for him as well. There is no label on makeup stating for women only. Women can go in with any color hair, even unnatural colors and it’s ok, so how is that any different then this?

  • Nici

    1. She. If culpepper is transgender, the proper pronoun is she.
    2. Men wear makeup, too.
    3. What about face tattoos? Permanent eyeliner? Do they make the licensee cover that up?

  • Gary Abosch

    I agree with the department. He was not presenting himself appropriately for a government issue ID. How he wants to look on his own time is his business. I would skip the makeup at work or during job interviews as well. Also church. That being said my bank at one time posted a sign on their door saying no caps or sunglasses. I used to wear a cap a lot because I was embarrassed about my thinning hair and I refused to comply on the basis that women are not required to take a wig off so yes the lines can get a little blurred sometime.

  • KG 2572

    As a woman, the DMV made me take my hair down from a ponytail to take my drivers’ license ID as that did not represent my everyday look. The DMV is not just picking on him. This is ridiculous to make the news.

    • AB

      No offense, but there’s a hell of a lot difference in what you said vs how he was treated. This is purely just hatred. Their explanation for being assholes to her is inexcusable.
      “She said that Culpepper will not be allowed to take his photo with makeup because he needs to look like a male, as indicated on his legal identification.”. putting hair down =/= being discriminated against because of what gender you were given. What they’re saying is if he wants to wear makeup that he is required to get a sex change. Do you realize how ridiculous that is…? Not every transgender wants to mutilate their bodies. Some really enjoy having their natural sex organ. Can you imagine the pain that comes with splitting a penis into a vagina? I watched a video on transgender surgery on youtube. Let me assure you that it is fairly difficult to stomach. This is wrong of the DMV and you trying to justify it with some lousy “put down your hair” rule is flawed.

  • sd

    My heart goes out to this young man. I missed when he identified himself as transgender, he could just simply be a transvestite. This is him, we should accept it. Period. If the DMV was worried about having a photo that represents him as he is every day they would of taken the picture. This is just sexism. Time to just call it out.

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