Why Was This Teen’s Everyday Look Labeled A ‘Disguise’ By The DMV?

South Carolina DMV told the gender nonconforming 16-year-old he was wearing a 'disguise.'

Like any of us, Chase Culpepper, 16, was just excited to get his driver’s license after acing his driving test. But when he got to the DMV in Anderson, South Carolina, getting his ID was more complicated than he thought.

The DMV agents wanted Chase, who considers himself gender nonconforming, to take off his makeup — something he wears every day.

“According to [the DMV agent], me wearing makeup would be a disguise, and I did not look like a boy should,” Culpepper told local TV station WYFF. “It was very degrading, and I felt, I was in shock.”

The DMV, however, defended itself, with a spokesperson saying that they were just following policy, which states, “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.”

Chase’s mother, Teresa, strongly disagrees, and the family says they are considering the possibility of legal action.

“It’s who he is, and for him to not have makeup on would be a disguise in itself,” Culpepper said.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund is urging the DMV to allow Chase to retake his photo.

“Chase’s freedom to express his gender should not be restricted by DMV staff,” said TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman in the 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.”