The family of a 16-year-old South Carolina boy has sued the state's DMV after the young transgender man was forced to remove his makeup for his driver's license photo.
Teresa Culpepper of Anderson, South Carolina filed the suit on behalf of her 16-year-old son Chase Culpepper, saying that the state's Department of Motor Vehicles violated her son's civil rights when they asked him to remove his makeup for his driver license photo.
Culpepper, who reportedly dresses in women's clothing and makeup, was allowed to keep on his pearl earrings but had to remove his makeup for the license photo. Culpepper was then told he did not remove his makeup thoroughly, and had to try for a second time to remove the cosmetics from his face.
The young man reportedly told his mother he was embarrassed by the incident and felt the DMV was not respecting his identity as a transgender man.
"I love my son just the way he is," the young man's mother, Teresa Culpepper, said in a statement following the filing of the lawsuit. "The DMV should not have treated him this way."
Although the DMV has not issued a response to the lawsuit, the government entity's previous policy has been to not allow any alteration of appearance for a driver's license photo that could confuse a police officer.
The legal group representing Culpepper, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, released a statement Thursday saying their client should be allowed to freely express his identity without feeling judged by the DMV or any other government agency.
"Chase is entitled to be himself and to express his gender non-conformity without interference from the South Carolina DMV," Michael Silverman, executive director of the legal group, said in a statement released Tuesday. "It is not the role of the DMV or any government agency or employee to decide how men and women should look."