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Gender non-conforming South Carolina teen told to remove makeup for driver's license photo

Chase Culpepper wears makeup and female articles of clothing every day.
By Evan Bleier   |   June 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM   |   Comments

ANDERSON, S.C., June 17 (UPI) --A South Carolina teen is hoping for the chance to retake his driver's license photo after being forced to take off his makeup prior to the picture being snapped.

Chase Culpepper, who identifies as gender non-conforming and wears makeup and female clothing every day, was forced to remove his makeup by employees at the Anderson Department of Motor Vehicle.

After passing the driving test, the 16-year-old was told the picture could not be taken "because he did not look the way a boy should."

"They said he was wearing a disguise," Culpepper's mother, Teresa Culpepper, told WYFF News 4. "It was very hurtful. He was absolutely devastated. That's who he is 24/7."

According to the DMV, employees were just following the rules.

Culpepper did end up taking off the makeup and getting the picture taken.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund put out a release calling for the SCDMV to allow Culpepper to retake the picture.

"Chase's freedom to express his gender should not be restricted by DMV staff," said TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman. "He is entitled to be who he is and to express that without interference from government actors."

According to the TLDEF, forcing Culpepper to take off his makeup is a violation of his right to free speech.

"This is who I am and my clothing and makeup reflect that," Culpepper said. "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."

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