US: Trans women told to remove ‘wigs and makeup’ for driver’s license photo

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Two West Virginia trans women were ordered to remove their wigs, makeup and jewellery in order to take photos for their driver’s licenses.

Kristen Skinner, 45, went to the Charles Town Department of Motor Vehicles in West Virginia in order to change her license name in line with her legal name change, but was met with hostility, and was ordered told to remove her “wig”, despite not wearing one.

52-year-old trans woman Trudy Kitzmiller visited the Martinsburg DMV, also in West Virginia. in order to get a new license after changing her name.

She was referred to as “it”, and ordered her to take off her makeup, wig and jewellery for the photo.

Kitzmiller said: “This is who I am – a transgender woman – and I have overcome many obstacles to become my true self. DMV staff not only denied me the right to appear in my license photo as myself, they used dehumanizing language to address me.

“I want to move on with my life and participate fully in society with an ID that accurately reflects who I am.”

Skinner said: “It has taken me a long time to become the woman that I am today, and it has not been easy. The DMV treated me horribly.

“I was simply trying to update my driver’s license to reflect who I truly am as a transgender woman. Instead I was told to alter how I normally appear so that I would look like a man and was called ‘it’ in the process.”

Michael Silverman, of the Transgender Legal Defence and Education fund, said: “Trudy and Kristen appeared at the DMV in makeup, clothing and accessories that they wear on a daily basis. Nevertheless, DMV staff mandated that Trudy and Kristen change their appearance.

“Other women are permitted to wear makeup and items that facilitate female gender expression in their driver’s license photos as a matter of course, yet Trudy and Kristen were targeted for suppression simply because they are transgender women.

Forcing them to remove their makeup and other items that facilitate a female gender expression before allowing them to take their driver’s license photos restricts their free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections.”

16-year-old gender variant teen Chase Culpepper experienced the same treatment, when a DMV in South Carolina claimed photos could not be taken in “disguise”.

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