After Lawuit, Transgender Teen Can Wear Makeup in DMV Photo


A South Carolina teen who filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina DMV after being denied the ability to wear makeup in her license photo has successfully settled out of court, and in effect, has paved the way for other trans individuals in the state to do the same if they choose, reports NPR.

Chase Culpepper, 17, filed the federal lawsuit last September, accusing the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles of sex discrimination and violating her free speech. In the spring of 2014, she arrived at the DMV office in Anderson, S.C. wearing mascara and eye shadow, ready to take her driver’s license photo. She says department officials promptly told her she had to remove the cosmetics before taking the photo because they were a “disguise.”

All Chase wanted, though, was to take a photo that reflected her everyday appearance—which includes makeup and jewelry.

Under the terms of the settlement, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles agreed to change its policy to allow people seeking drivers’ licenses to be photographed as they regularly present themselves, even if their appearance does not match the officials’ expectations of how the applicant should look. The department also promised to send Culpepper a written apology and train its employees in how to treat transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in professional settings.

The changes will occur next month, which is when Chase says she’ll return to take a new photo that truly represents her.

Image courtesy of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

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