Transgender teen told no makeup for photo

Last updated 10:15 18/06/2014
Chase Culpepper
UPSET: Chase Culpepper was told he had to remove his makeup for the photo, even though he wears it on a daily basis.

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A transgender teen in the US has been forced to remove his makeup for his driver's licence photo.

The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has also ruled Chase Culpepper, a boy who dresses as a girl, could not have the photo retaken wearing makeup.

A New York group known as the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund has taken up Cukpepper's cause, urging to the department to allow the 16-year-old to have a new photo dressed as he normally does.

The fund claimed the DMV employees said he did not look the way they thought a boy should, and one individual called his makeup a "disguise".

"This is who I am and my clothing and makeup reflect that," Culpepper said in a statemen from the fund.

"The Department of Motor Vehicles should not have forced me to remove my makeup simply because my appearance does not meet their expectations of what a boy should look like. I just want the freedom to be who I am without the DMV telling me that I'm somehow not good enough."

The fund said Culpepper regularly wears makeup and androgynous or girls' clothing.

"Chase's freedom to express his gender should not be restricted by DMV staff," Michel Silverman, the executive director of the fund wrote to the department.

"He is entitled to be who he is and express that without interference from government actors."

Beth Parks, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said the agency has received the letter and will be responding that a new photo will not be permitted.

She said that, since 2009, the department has had a policy on taking driver license photos.

The policy says that "at no time will an applicant be photographed when it appears that he or she is purposely altering his or her appearance so that it the photo would misrepresent his or her identity."

She said that law enforcement agencies rely on drivers' license photos to identify people.

"If it's Thomas Jones on the license and yet it looks like a female, that is very confusing for them," she said. "They want to know what the identity is."

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- AP

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