Sunday, September 7, 2014
"I want to be myself and have a driver's license photo that reflects that," stated Chase Culpepper.
Chase Culpepper, 16, passed his driving test in March and when he went to get his license in Anderson SC, he was told to remove his makeup before they would take his picture. Chase evidently wears women's clothes and makeup everyday and tried to explain that this is how he looks on a daily basis so his picture should reflect that. He made several attempts to remove a little makeup at a time but he finally removed enough for the DMV to be satisfied enough to take his picture.
Chase stated that he felt humiliated by the experience and still felt that he should be allowed to get his picture retaken with his makeup on. I do understand the "outrage" Chase......... I can't remember ever having a decent looking picture on my license. I think that at times, DMV must have had an unwritten rule that stated that the pictures had to look as close to a mug shot as possible.
In June of this year, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of Chase with help from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Theresa Culpepper, Chase's mother, has brought the lawsuit that will ask the court to rule that denying Chase the freedom to wear his makeup in his DMV photo violates his freedom of speech and freedom of expression as well as being sex discrimination. The lawsuit also states that the photo policy is unconstitutionally vague in it's description of what is allowed for a photo.
Chase has stated that he dresses like this ever day and he also dresses like that when he is at work at McDonald's. He added that he thinks everyone should be able to walk into DMV and get their picture taken with whatever they are wearing. Again, I do understand the sentiment but really? Someone should be able to stroll into DMV, dressed in Goth black and face makeup and that would be ok for their ID pic?
First of all....... a drivers license is not a right for every American. If it were a right, everyone would just be handed one when they turn 16. It is a privilege and as such, there are rules to follow in order to obtain one. One of those rules is how you look in the picture. When you apply for a passport, there are also rules as to how you look and what you wear in that photo and they reserve the right to accept or reject a photo that is used.
There are many people who wear a hat everyday..... that is not allowed in the photos. In 2003, it was decided that a Muslim woman could not insist on wearing her veil for a driver's license photo. Religious apparel is allowed in the photos as long as it does not extend beyond the hairline or shadow a person's face.
Victoria Jackson found out recently that she was not able to have a bow in her hair for her DMV photo. She has had them taken in the past but since 2009, rules and guidelines for pictures have been changing. She was informed that if it was of religious meaning, she may have been allowed to wear it. She stated that she didn't think fast enough to tell the woman there that it was part of her "Bowism" religion and she wouldn't go to heaven if she removed it.
Chase has repeatedly been described as a gender non-conforming teen but both he and his mother refer to him as a male. He is not a young man who is transgendered or seeking to become a female from what has been reported. This leads me to believe then that Chase is what they used to refer to as........ a crossdresser.
The majority of people who crossdress are male and they are very straight in their sexual orientation. Men have crossdressed for centuries, some because of the outfits of the time and many at other times, enjoyed it in private. It just basically means that a male enjoys dressing as a female for whatever reason makes them feel good. Chase is lucky that he does live in these times because schools are forced to accommodate his clothing choices.
It is also very nice that his workplace accepts his manner of dress but from what I have seen when I have gone into a McDonald's....... he is wearing his makeup and an official uniform. There are probably hundreds of men out there who privately wish they could also come out of the closet with their desires to wear women's clothing. The reason for the lawsuit though I think is flawed. Chase may have been humiliated by being made to remove his makeup when he has not had any roadblocks set before him in the past. I know of young people who have become very angry when they were informed that they can not attend school in their pajamas.
Choices lead to consequences and as Chase grows older and leaves the sheltered world of school......... the consequences change as well. Several years ago I spoke to a police officer as to why he was stuck wearing a long sleeved shirt in the summer heat while the other officers were in short sleeves. He explained that after the military he chose to get tattoos on his arms and they were nice ones. The problem arose when he decided to become an officer.... the department he wanted to join would not allow visible tattoos. His choice has led him to having to wear long sleeves whenever he is on duty. I am sure that you can say that he has been discriminated against, he has lost his right to express himself or he is being forced to dress as something he isn't and he should sue. This officer viewed it as what he needs to do so that he could be employed where he wished.
Chase crossdresses and his mother is fine with that. That is a great thing but to think that he should be allowed to pose for his DMV photo as a girl when he is not in any way trying to actually become a girl does constitute a costume. The person with the purple spiked mohawk may well be asked to remove that as well......... the girl walking in with face makeup like a member of the band Kiss will be told to take it off. The photo on your license will never accurately reflect how you look on any given day. People change, Chase obviously has many different looks and he will change as he grows older and finds that not every workplace is going to be open to a man who crossdresses. I would certainly be on Chase's side if he were in fact trying to correct the sex he is to the one he knows he should be.