Teen made to remove makeup to get license photo at DMV

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Anderson, SC (WHNS) — An Upstate teenager was told to take off his makeup before he was allowed to get his picture taken at the DMV. However, the 16-year-old said he was not in disguise. He was dressed as who he is.

Chase Culpepper, of Anderson, was told he needed to look more like a boy before he could receive his new license.

He said he was only dressed the way he does every day to school and to his job at McDonald’s. He doesn’t think he violated any rules and now he wants the DMV to let him re-take his license picture, wearing makeup.

Culpepper got his license in March but felt like he had been singled out and mistreated at the DMV for dressing differently.

He went to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and on June 9 the group contacted the DMV explaining that Culpepper’s rights had been violated.

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson Beth Parks said it’s important for a license picture to portray who the person is legally.

“When this young man has to show his ID, his ID shows that he’s male. The card says he’s male [and therefore], he needs to look like a male,” said Parks.

She explained that if someone is transgender and changes their name and gender through the courts, the DMV will honor that change.

According to the South Carolina DMV’s photo policy, which was updated in 2009:

“At no time will an applicant be photographed when it appears that he or she is purposefully altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity.”

Culpepper said he thinks people should be able to walk into the DMV and take a picture no matter what he or she is wearing.

“This is how I am every day. And if a police officer wanted to recognize how I am, then, he would want to see who I am in my picture as well,” said Culpepper.

His mom has stood behind him throughout and said she is appalled that her government is telling her son that he needs to conform to specific ideals of what a man should look like.

Culpepper hopes his story can be part of a movement toward change so that others don’t go through what he did.

Parks said that the staff at the DMV acted in accordance to policy. She said that Culpepper will not be allowed to take his photo with makeup because he needs to look like a male, as indicated on his legal identification.


  • Veuve Noire

    Wow, let’s collect a million dollar for him for the pain he suffered when he had to remove his makeup to take his driver license picture. Ridiculous.

  • Oceanvibes

    He should be made to remove his makeup. When you get a drivers license you can’t wear wigs or novelty glasses, etc….this is ignorant….take the makeup off you idiot…move on….shut up!! waahh waahhh …

  • Alleah

    He doesn’t ‘look like a male’ though in his daily life so that makes no sense. If it is because he needs to be recognized by an officer or something if they ask for his license well they wont recognize him because that isn’t the way he usually looks. Women wear makeup all the time in their pictures, does the same thing apply to women who wear makeup?

  • shaun

    They don’t ask woman to take off their makeup. And yes their are woman out there who don’t look the same with makeup on. Just look at all those posts on the internet about celebrities photos, they show side by side pictures and they look different. Just a thought.

  • dancing in the ruins

    let’s pick a state – like california – and move all the fruit cakes there so they can marry each other and boys can wear makeup and girls can wear cutoff flannels and then the rest of us normal people can in peace.

    oh yeah and let’s give california our inner city thugs too.

    • For all you "normal" people

      I don’t understand how feminine acting men and masculine acting women are effecting your quality of life. What other people choose to wear and present themselves has no effect on your life unless you choose for it to. I think that a state should be designate for all closed minded “normal” people so that they can all brude together and their judgemental behaviors can be kept to themselves.

  • bill wenz

    Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund,who is paying for this craziness. mom and son both crazy Halloween is oct 31 not everyday

  • Brittany

    Most of the comments above are absolutely disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourselves. At the end of the day we are all human. If that was your child you would feel differently. It is wrong its not a disguise. What about the females out there that look male? Except people for who they are. You learned that at an early age. Grow up!!!

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