Thursday, September 04, 2014

Gender Nonconforming Teen Sues SC DMV

You may have heard about the incident back in March in which Chase Culpepper was forced to take off the makeup he was wearing and 'look more like a boy' before officials at a South Carolina DMV office would take a driver's license photo.

16 year old Chase identifies as male and answers to male pronouns, but wears feminine or androgynous attire and makeup in his everyday life.

Chase was informed by DMV officials at the Anderson, SC office near where he lives that wearing the makeup constituted a 'prohibited disguise' and refused to take his picture for his drivers license despite his mother pointing out this is how Chase appears in his everyday life.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday that alleges the DMV violated Chase's free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutions.

“My clothing and makeup reflect who I am,” Chase said.  “The Department of Motor Vehicles should not have forced me to remove my makeup simply because my appearance does not match what they think 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 suit was brought by Chase’s mother Teresa Culpepper on his behalf as a minor.  It asks the court to rule that denying Chase the freedom to wear his everyday makeup in his license photo constitutes sex discrimination and violates his right to free speech and expression under the United States Constitution. It also seeks a ruling under the U.S. and South Carolina Constitutions that the DMV’s photo policy is unconstitutionally vague, too broad, and lets DMV employees arbitrarily decide how a driver's license applicant should look, without regard for the rights of the people they are supposed to serve.

For you legal junkies, the suit is Teresa Culpepper v. Kevin A. Shwedo, et al, and is pending in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Columbia Division

Let's hope that the TLDEF lawsuit is successful

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