DMV agrees to allow transgender teen to wear make up in her driving licence photo

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A settlement has been reached on behalf of Chase Culpepper, a transgender teen who was told she should “look like a boy” for her photo.

Chase Culpepper 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”. At the time, she identified as gender-nonconforming, and has since begun identifying as transgender.

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


The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund sued on her behalf, arguing that it was sex discrimination based on unconstitutional gender stereotypes.

Under the settlement, the South Carolina DMV must allow Chase to retake her photo, dressed as she wishes, and apologise to her for the treatment she received. They must also allow all other applicants to have photos taken while dressed as usually are “even when their hair, make-up or clothing doesn’t match the DMV’s expectations of how a man or a woman should look”, and train all staff appropriately.

Chase said: “I am thrilled with the outcome of my lawsuit. My clothing and make-up reflect who I am.

“From day one, all I wanted was to get a driver’s license that looks like me. Now I will be able to do that.

“It was hurtful to be singled out for being transgender and made to feel that somehow I wasn’t good enough.

“With this settlement, the DMV can no longer force transgender people to look like someone they’re not.

“I’m so glad that I stood up for what’s right and helped make positive change for transgender and gender nonconforming people.”

Her mother Theresa Culpepper added “I am very proud of Chase for having the courage to stand up to the discrimination she faced at the DMV.

“I love Chase just the way she is. Her victory will make the DMV experience much better for transgender and gender nonconforming people in the future.”