US: Gender non-conforming teen forced to ‘look like a boy’ for driver’s license photo

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A gender non-conforming teen applying for their driver’s license was forced to “look more like a boy” for their license photo.

Chase Culpepper, 16 – who wears make-up and women’s clothing – was applying for a license at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Anderson, South Carolina, but was told to “look more like a boy” because regulations prohibit license photos taken in “disguise”.

The DMV worker refused to take the photo while Culpepper was wearing women’s clothes and make-up.

Culpepper said: “This is who I am and my clothing and makeup reflect that.

“The Department of Motor Vehicles should not have forced me to remove my makeup simply because my appearance does not meet their expectations of what a boy should look like.

“I just want the freedom to be who I am without the DMV telling me that I’m somehow not good enough.

“I also want to make sure that other gender non-conforming kids and adults do not have to go through this in the future.”

Teresa Culpepper, Chase’s mother, added: “My son passed his driving test and was excited that he could finally get a driver’s license.

“Instead, he was singled out and discriminated against because he did not meet the DMV’s expectations of how a boy should look.

“I want my son to be able to be himself without discrimination or harassment. I love him that way and the government should not be telling him that he’s not okay the way he is.”

Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund said: “Chase’s freedom to express his gender should not be restricted by DMV staff.

“He is entitled to be who he is and to express that without interference from government actors.

“Forcing Chase to remove his makeup prior to taking his driver’s license photo restricts his free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections.”

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