DMV Forces Teen To Remove Makeup: “That’s Not The Way A Boy Should Look”

doc_554A South Carolina teen is fighting for the chance to retake his driver’s license photo after allegedly being forced to alter his appearance to please the intolerant staff at the Anderson Department of Motor Vehicles.

Chase Culpepper, a 16-year-old gender non-conforming male who bears a stunning resemblance to Emily VanCamp, tells WYFF that when he appeared at the DMV on March 3 to receive his very first driver’s license, he was forced to remove his makeup because employees considered it a “disguise.”

Culpepper, who appears with his supportive mother in the local news interview here, says he wears dresses and makeup every day. This, according to the DMV, is not “the way a boy should look.”

“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.”

Though he removed his makeup in order to take the photo and receive his license, Culpepper says the event was mortifying. He’s currently fighting with alongside the Transgednder Legal Defense & Edutcation Fund to have his rights restored.

“Chase’s freedom to express his gender should not be restricted by DMV staff,” said TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman in a letter to the DMV. “He is entitled to be who he is and to express that without interference from government actors. Forcing Chase to remove his makeup prior to taking his driver’s license photo restricts his free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections.”

Beth Parks, a representative from the DMV, has offered the following explanation as the state’s only statement:

“At no time will an applicant be photographed when it appears that he or she is purposely altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity.”

“It was very hurtful, Culpepper’s mother told WYFF. “He was absolutely devastated. That’s who he is 24/7.” The family is considering taking legal action.

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  • jayj150

    The DMV officer is probably a transperson. That’s what they stand for: they think if you are an effeminate boy, and ‘look and sound’ like a girl, then you must be a girl.

  • BJ McFrisky

    It’s a known fact that one cannot disguise their appearance in an ID photo, be it at the DMV or at the passport office. No glasses, no hats, nothing to obscure your true ID. The problems are endless if this guy has a photo that looks like a woman, but wants to use the ID as a man (or vice versa). Half his life will be spent explaining to authorities the discrepancy.

  • Dakotahgeo

    I would recommend that Chase contact the ACLU and have one of their attorneys accompany him to said DMV. Have the subpoena to appear in Court ready for the DMV imbecile. It is a good thing the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund is assisting to have his rights restored. These whackadoo government officials never seem to learn… Y’ALL CAN’T DO THIS SH*T! Not in today’s culture!

  • DarkZephyr

    @BJ McFrisky: We can ALWAYS count on you to take the side against LGBT people, can’t we?

    • Dakotahgeo

      @DarkZephyr: Like Hooper/Susie on other blogs, you can always depend on BJ and these blokes to be reliable in a negative way. Safe to take bets against them.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @BJ McFrisky: are women wearing a disguise when they have makeup on and take a pic at the DMV? If a guy can’t wear make up then women shouldn’t either. Makeup is after all being treated as a disguise, it should apply to all.

  • Blackceo


    Oh come now…you can’t expect BJ McFrisky to understand simple logic and common sense now can you?

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @Blackceo: Ya, silly me, he’s our Dee Omalley.

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    @Nowuvedoneit: Let me play Devils advocate here. In response to your comment Society doesn’t treat both sex’s the same there are do’s and don’t for each and one of the don’t is boys don’t the make up period end of story. As for what B J McFRISKY said concerning ID’s he is correct. The law prohibits anyone from disguising their true self in an official state or federal government ID. So the DMV person didn’t nothing wrong they followed the letter of the law. The law doesn’t recognize gender Identity it recognizes born sex that just how our society works.

    • Dakotahgeo

      @DerekR: Oh I so wish I could up^vote your comment. Truer words were never spoken!

  • Cam

    I get that Trans issues have gotten some press lately after the RuPaul thing and that Queerty is trying to be sensitive to that.

    However, this site still says it has a “gay” agenda, and yet I have basically seen 10 Trans articles for every lesbian article on here and more for Bi articles.

    If you are going to be a site that isn’t just “gay” but embraces every letter in LGBT you may want to not only focus on the the letter screaming the loudest.

  • BJ McFrisky

    So if a man (or woman, or a space alien) walks into the state department donning clown make-up and wants to take a passport photo, then that’s okay, right? That’s them expressing their true self? Have to take their picture as they want it, appearances be damned, is that it?

    Wow, watch a bunch of emotional tools. Laws are laws, people, no matter how tread-upon you feel your civil rights are when it comes to dressing up like girls.
    (Blackceo): How’s that for simple logic and common sense?

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @BJ McFrisky: I’ve seen plenty if women go in looking like they have clown makeup on, if it the law is to be enforced then all who apply must not go in wearing makeup, wigs( you know those who have cancer), or clothes that make you look slimming.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @Cam: I think they have an algorithm that follows stories clicked on or commented on. Trans stories get the most comments so that’s what gets put out.

  • Dxley

    Why is this a bad thing? Are men supposed to look like women? “… gender non-confirming male”. Um… A man is a man. Why would a man want to be a woman? I’m completely on “the intolerant staff at the Anderson Department of Motor Vehicles.”‘s side!

  • Cam

    @BJ McFrisky:

    BJ, Once again, anything that is on the opposite side of any LGBT identified person. Predictable.

    From the article he is actually MORE identifiable if the picture had him in make-up since that is the regular way he goes out.

    People with make-up, ridiculous hair styles, etc… are allowed to take those pictures, if this was REALLY about seeing our faces then they would have every person who goes in scrub their face and slick their hair back. I would think that was very obvious…..but of course if your automatic reaction is that any gay person is in the wrong and any anti-gay person is correct I can see why you wouldn’t get that.

  • masc4masc

    shim looks like Ben Seaver.

    hmmmm…I wonder how the LGBTQIABCXYZ community is gonna work “gender non-conforming” into the ever-lengthening acronym. tricky.

    • Dakotahgeo

      @BJ McFrisky: I think you’re playing with a lit stick of bravado. Common sense should tell you that the GLBTI community will do just fine without your false masculinity. You’re not the brightest light bulb in the Chandelier of Intelligence, are you? Shame.

  • Jacob23

    Rules of LGBT:

    1. Lesbian, gay and bi people are not allowed to exist. They must be reduced to a letter and stuffed into a group of other letters. Gay boys and Lesbian girls must be informed that in a fundamental way, they are not really boys and girls the way that straight boys and girls are.

    2. Lesbian, gay and bi people are not allowed to have organizations of their own and are prohibited from fighting for their rights. All LGB orgs must be relabeled LGBT, even if the org is 100% funded and staffed by LGBs. No one may fight for gay rights unless those efforts are coupled with free labor for trans activism.

    3. Rules 1 and 2 don’t apply to transgenders. Ts are free to have a separate identity. They can have their own apartheid-like groups like the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, discussed above. And they don’t have to do squat for LGB people. In fact, they should feel free to attack LGBs constantly and to make endless demands upon them. Regular physical assaults are permissible.

    That is the ideology of LGBT.

  • Alan down in Florida

    @sweetbrandigirl2004: “The law prohibits anyone from disguising their true self in an official state or federal government ID.” The key phrase here is disguising their true self. Chase Culpepper is expressing her true self. And it is not the job of the DMV to decide for her what that looks like.

  • jayj150

    @Alan down in Florida: You said: “The key phrase here is disguising their true self. Chase Culpepper is expressing HER true self…”. He is expressing HIS true self. He is a boy. He was born a boy, he has always been anatomically a boy and has always identified as a boy. The fact YOU are referring to him as a she is despicably homophobic, you are assuming he is not really a boy because, in your view, he doesn’t ‘look like one’. That’s exactly the kind of logic raging homophobes use to harrass and discrimiate against gender non-conforming children.

  • IcarusD

    @BJ McFrisky: The law does not explicitly state that men may not wear make-up. Wearing normal make-up, whether male or female, is not the same as wearing clown make-up nor is it concealing one’s identity.

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    @Alan down in Florida: She is exposing her gender Identity NOT her true gender as its registered with the State. As I stated the State or federal Government DON’T give a rats aSS how you feel on the inside or who you think you woulda coulda shoulda been they ONLY care about what you legal documentation says. They are not in the feelings business they’re in the official ID business and as such they are REQUIRED by law to go by what your other official documents say you are i.e. Boy or Girl ! They don’t deal with in-between.

  • hyhybt

    “Your Friend Four is a friend of mine”

    @BJ McFrisky: Everyone I know who wears glasses (and whose DL photo I’ve seen) has them on in their ID.

  • Bee Gaga

    This is all bs. The guy just had a problem with this boy because he didn’t conform to his standard of what a boy should be or look like. I’m a gender-nonconforming male as well and when I got my licence earlier this year I had on make-up, granted just some foundation, eyeliner and mascara, and they didn’t tell me to take it off. Nor did they tell me to take off my glasses. Nice try DMV spokesperson, no one’s buying it though. They’re just trying to cover this man’s ass.

  • DerekR

    @BJ McFrisky: Um kinda strange that I am wearing my glasses in both my NYS drivers license and my US passport photo so please explain where you got that information? I think that, like so much else that comes from you, was pulled directly out of your ass.

  • corvaspikenard

    If he wears makeup and presents ‘femininely’ every day, then it would make sense that his license picture reflects that. It’s stupid to have a picture on your license that doesn’t look like you, otherwise that ID is useless.
    Basically they are trying to give him an ID that will cause issues.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @sweetbrandigirl2004: Not for long, Sweetheart… not for long!

  • hyhybt

    @corvaspikenard: Mine doesn’t look as much like me as it ought, simply because it was taken in the late 90’s. They started letting people renew by mail; first it was supposed to be only every other 4-year renewal, but when that period ended, instead of having me go in again they did another one for ten years. When my current license expires, the photo on it will be old enough to vote.

  • Ogre Magi

    The South is such a rotten place

  • Merv

    I think it’s refreshing that he’s rejecting binary gender, while still acknowledging his maleness. It’s OK to be a feminine male. You don’t have to go under the knife in order to conform to society’s gender expectations.

  • Will L

    I agree with BJ McFrisky and sweetbrandigirl2004 that this is basically the way it is by the letter of the law but I also see the point that they don’t make women remove makeup. It sounds like he is not a her – just a non-conforming male. Geez, can it get any more confusing?

  • coltonblack

    Gender is a construct that is in the mind. The same holds true for “masculine” and feminine. My question is why does the local DMV care what someone looks like? My sense here is that DMV is being super rigid here. They seem like they have some wiggle room though if they have a history of enforcing this policy with others across the spectrum.

  • masc4masc

    @coltonblack: I think this wouldn’t have been an issue if he had the sex as female on his documentation. the DMV’s explanation was pretty clear: a man (with male on his documentation) dressed as a woman qualifies as disguised. it’s not time to play head games when u go to the DMV.

  • corvaspikenard

    @masc4masc: If he dresses that way all the time, then dressing ‘butch’ and taking off makeup would be a ‘disguise’ because that’s not how he normally looks.

    1. give (someone or oneself) a different appearance in order to conceal one’s identity.

    Female clothing and makeup is his normal appearance.

    • hyhybt

      Like something I saw the other day and don’t quite remember right, but “These aren’t women’s dresses. They’re my dresses. I bought them.”

  • scotshot

    Close to 45 years ago I knew a woman named Peg – short for Peggy. Peg wore “men’s” clothing at all times, most often blue collar work clothes/uniforms right down to steel toed shoes. Never, ever any makeup, hair was short and worn as a working guy from the 50s – early 60s would wear slicked back. “She” never had an ID photo as a woman and if so, the ID would never been accepted as hers(his).
    This crap is SC in standard operating procedure for them.

  • masc4masc

    @corvaspikenard: the DMV isn’t going by the make believe world he’s created in his head. that may be his “normal” appearance, but he’s presenting himself pretty much as a female, which the DMV let him know is gonna be a problem as long as his documents say male. look at ‘faggot rupaul’ (hehe) who presents himself as a female quite often; he can’t go to the DMV and
    expect to be photographed that way. like i said, if this kid did whatever men do to get their documents to say female, i doubt this would’ve been an issue. he wanted to play gender-bending games at the DMV, and the DMV shut it down. tough titty.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Dakotahgeo: Yes indeed. BJ McFrisky and Fagburn and their ilk are the most predictable people i’ve seen at queerty. They claim that they are the way they are to show that they don’t buy into every little issue that LGBT gripe about or conform to LGBT culture. Why this translates for them that they have to be negative donkeys about EVERYTHING LGBT is beyond me. They refuse to be positive or contribute in any way. This makes ALL of their statements disingenuous in my book.

    @BJ McFrisky: Simple cosmetic makeup is nowhere near the same thing as clown makeup. What a ridiculous comparison. Men like you are insidious enemies of the LGBT community.

  • corvaspikenard

    @masc4masc: That’s not what the DMV said though. They clearly stated the issue was that it was a ‘disguise’. However, he has proven that this is how he looks every day, so it is clearly not a disguise.
    You can put your weirdo binarastic slant on it if you want, but it doesn’t factually represent the situation.
    Unless they force all people to remove makeup and force all people to present in clothes of their birth sex, they don’t have a leg to stand on. Having one set of rules for men and another for women is discrimination.

    C’mon. Make an actual argument in opposition that makes sense.

  • masc4masc

    @corvaspikenard: lol this isn’t an argument though. there’s nothing to argue over. he got shut down. someone that identifies as male but dresses as a girl is what they meant by ‘disguise’, so they do have a leg to stand on…which is why he did exactly what they asked. hopefully he’s gotten the 15 minutes he wanted from this.

  • corvaspikenard

    @masc4masc: So woman with short haircuts, no makeup and male clothing should be told to put on a dress and makeup and grow their hair out if they look too masculine.
    Yet that doesn’t happen, because that would be discrimination.
    This is exactly the same. It is a double standard. Both genders should be treated equally.

  • masc4masc

    @corvaspikenard: ur being intellectually dishonest again. if a woman walked into the DMV wearing a trucker cap with a penciled in beard and mustache clearly trying to look like a man with female on her documents, i’m confident she’d be asked to do the same thing they asked of this kid…yet men can walk-in and have their ID pics taken with beards and mustaches and women can wear the same pencil in their eyebrows. discrimination! see how ridiculous we can get with this?

  • Merv

    @masc4masc: Look at the photo, and remember that drivers license photos are head shots, so clothes are irrelevant. There’s nothing all that unusual about this boy’s face. The hair is long, but lots of other boys have longer hair. He’s wearing earrings, but so do lots of boys. The lip color is pretty typical, even if he is wearing lipstick. The eyebrows are as thick as many boys. The makeup is light enough that it’s hard to tell if he’s wearing any at all. Really, what’s the specific complaint? He’s a feminine looking boy. That’s no reason to deny a drivers license.

  • masc4masc

    @Merv: Lol so ur angle is to totally deny how much this dude looks like a lady. Epic fail! The writer even says the guy resembles Emily VanCamp (a woman). I was referring to makeup and presenting oneself as the opposite sex for a government-issued photo ID. It’s gonna be a problem, and rightfully so. He can either not show up in drag or he can get the sex changed on his documentation to match how he appears. Anyone who’s been to the DMV even once in their life knows it’s not time to play “come live in my fantasyland” when they call ur number. They didn’t deny him a license; he DID get it. No rights were violated.

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