Queer Teen Forced To Remove Make-up For DMV Photo


Chase Culpepper is one cool teen. This sixteen-year-old can beat a face like the best queens out there and he’s got a perfectly charming southern accent to match.  We salute Chase for his impeccable eyebrows and perfectly painted lips.

The DMV of South Carolina, however, does not agree with our assessment.  After passing the driving test with a perfect score, Chase was forced to remove his make-up by the predictably grumpy (and un-predictably rights-violating) DMV workers.  The semi-logical (albeit intensely frustrating and deceptively unspecific) rationale they used was that people aren’t allowed to wear a “disguise” in their photo. However, the DMV worker went on to say that Chase needed to “look the way a boy should” and that he needed to “look male”, which is some gender normative and regressive bull.  It’s 2014, some guys wear eye shadow. Deal with it.

With the backing of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), it was requested that Chase be allowed to re-take his photo. Perhaps unsurprisingly (because: bureaucracy) the request was ignored. Now, the organization is filing a federal suit:

The suit – brought by Chase’s mother Teresa Culpepper on his behalf as a minor – 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.

The suit, Teresa Culpepper v. Kevin A. Shwedo, et al., is pending in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Columbia Division. Fulbright & Jaworski LLP and Wyche, P.A. are pro bono co-counsel for Chase with TLDEF

Best of luck to Chase and the TLDEF. We’re hoping that once this is all over Mr. Culpepper will start a YouTube channel with make-up tutorials. Those skills need to be shared.

Check out CNN’s coverage of the debacle, below:

h.t: Towleroad

freelance pop-culture blogger (NNN, MTV Iggy, Oxygen) / recovering academic / wannabe club kid / satanic hipster / talentless DJ.