Chase Culpepper is taking it to the DMV – suing the pants off the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. Culpepper says the folks at the DMV demanded that he remove his mascara and eye shadow before they would allow him to take a license photo.
Writes Reuters news service, via MSN: “The mother of a South Carolina teenager who says he was ordered to remove his makeup for his driver's license photograph filed suit on Tuesday against the state's Department of Motor Vehicles on civil rights grounds. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Chase Culpepper, 16, who regularly wears makeup and women's clothing, pits transgender rights against the state's ability to determine when a person's appearance has been altered to the point of misrepresentation in an official photo ID.”
Culpepper is a male, but identifies with a female persona – opting to wear makeup and dresses. But employees at the South Carolina DMV office in Anderson made the teen wash his face – though he was allowed to keep his pearl earrings in.
The Daily News, which carried pictures of both the “boy” and “girl” version of the 16-year-old teen, said the “teen wears cosmetics and dresses in androgynous and female clothing,” and does not “identify with gender-specific pronouns.” The lawsuit alleges Chase’s “constitutional rights were violated when he was forced to remove facial makeup for a driver’s license photo.”
The lawsuit was spearheaded by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, who sent a letter to the state petitioning the DMV to allow Culpepper to retake the photo wearing makeup. When the DMV failed to respond, the suit was filed.
Teresa Culpepper, Chase’s mom, says she loves her son “just the way he is,” adding that Chase was humiliated. “The DMV should not have treated him this way,” Teresa said.
The DMV responded, citing their rulebook, which states that a person taking a driver license photo cannot wear a “disguise.” The stipulation, added in 2009, says that an applicant cannot have their photo taken if they “purposely alter his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity.”
Chase disagrees, stating that his outer female self is his identity.
“I want to make sure this doesn't happen to other people who are just trying to be themselves,” the teen said.
What are your thoughts? Should the state embrace Chase Culpepper's cross-dressing ways, or is this lawsuit full of bunk? Sound off below.