Lawsuit filed on behalf of South Carolina teenager denied a license photo for wearing makeup

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the family of Chase Culpepper, a gender non-conforming South Carolina teenager who was refused a driver's license at the Department of Motor Vehicles until he removed his makeup.  Culpepper, a 16-year-old, has said that the experience of being told to change his appearance in order to obtain a license was humiliating.

The South Carolina DMV claimed that Culpepper was attempting to "disguise" his appearance, however, TLDEF's Executive Director, Michael Silverman, said that the agency violated the teenager's rights. In June, TLDEF sent a letter to the DMV asking for Culpepper to be allowed a new license photo dressed as he typically is in makeup and androgynous clothing, but the agency never responded.

“Chase is entitled to be himself and to express his gender non-conformity without interference from the South Carolina DMV,” Silverman said in a statement. "It is not the role of the DMV or any government agency or employee to decide how men and women should look."

According to The Los Angeles Times, a spokesperson for the DMV in South Carolina, Beth Parks, claimed in June that makeup was acceptable on a woman, but "unusual" to see on a young man. 

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This documentary is the second in a series of six films that will share the experiences of, and accelerate acceptance for, LGBT people and communities across the U.S. South.