SC teen forced to remove makeup before taking license photo at DMV

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Dana Wachter, 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.


SC teen made to remove makeup to get license photo at DMV

Chase Culpepper, of Anderson, was told to take off his makeup before he was allowed to get his picture taken at the DMV.

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.


  • Brandy

    So are they also making women who have short hair and look more masculine apply makeup so they look like a female?

  • Laure Nowicki

    Look, if you are a boy, and your chromosomes say you were born as a boy, suck it up, be happy with what you are and be a boy! Same goes for females! You should not be catered to just because you say you are something you are not. I’m a female, and that’s what my DNA tells me I am, not my equipment. You can change your equipment all day long, but if your DNA says you’re a boy, you’re a boy. Genetic altering by drugs should NOT be legitimate, as its not natural and happening in the womb. The government is totally in the right on this! The government is only saying the same thing I am. If you were born male or female, that’s exact what you are and that’s exactly legitimate to accept. No one should be allowed to just “say” and PICK their gender, that’s not decided after birth, its determined FOR you in the womb. I’m tired of this debate of the government having to be forced to make decisions on what is or isn’t required by law just because people whine about their “feelings”. The law is cut and dry on THIS matter, grow a backbone. Once they change this, next thing you know people will whine that its their preference to murder, molest, rape or steal and demand the government change their punishment laws on those things just because of how someone “feels”. RIDICULOUS!!

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