Forced to Remove Makeup? Gender Nonconforming Teen Told to Take Off Mascara to Look More Like a Boy for DMV Photo


By , June 17, 2014.

A gender non-conforming South Carolina teen said he was told to take off his makeup to look more like a boy before he was allowed to have his driver’s license photo taken.

Chase Culpepper, who prefers male pronouns, was excited to get his first driver’s license this past March. Yet his excitement turned to frustration when an Anderson DMV worker told him he could not have his photo taken unless he changed how he looked.

“The government should not be in the business of telling men and women how we are supposed to look as men and women,” Michael Silverman, executive director of Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) said in defense of the teen’s right to dress as he chooses, regardless of whether or not a worker finds it gender-appropriate.

Eventually Chase relented and scrubbed the makeup off his face to pose for his DMV shot but was upset because he felt he was not able to be photographed as he truly looks and feels about himself.

“We want Chase to be able to go back to the DMV in Anderson, his hometown, and have his photo taken the way he looks every day with makeup on,” Silverman explained, adding that it is important that the teen’s gender expression not be thwarted by the government or the whims of a DMV employee.

He also said that the teen does not need the government to make him feel bad about who he is or how he chooses to dress himself.

“Chase is happy with who he is. Chase’s mother loves him just the way he is,” Silverman stressed. “The government should not tell him there is something wrong with him just because he doesn’t meet the DMV’s expectations about what a boy should look like.”

The DMV has not yet responded to the TLDEF’s concerns.

Photo Credit: TLDEF (Chase selfie at DMV)