SC teen forced to remove makeup before taking license photo at DMV

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ANDERSON, S.C. — A teenager was told to take off his makeup before he was allowed to get his picture taken at the DMV.

However, the 16-year-old said he was not in disguise. He was dressed as who he is.

Chase Culpepper, who wears makeup and androgynous or girls’ clothing on a daily basis, was told he needed to look more like a boy before he could receive his new license.

He said he was only dressed the way he does every day to school and to his job at McDonald’s. He doesn’t think he violated any rules and now he wants the DMV to let him re-take his license picture, wearing makeup.

Culpepper got his license in March but felt like he had been singled out and mistreated at the DMV for dressing differently.

He went to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and on June 9 the group contacted the DMV explaining that Culpepper’s rights had been violated.

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson Beth Parks said it’s important for a license picture to portray who the person is legally.

“When this young man has to show his ID, his ID shows that he’s male. The card says he’s male [and therefore], he needs to look like a male,” said Parks.

She explained that if someone is transgender and changes their name and gender through the courts, the DMV will honor that change.

According to the South Carolina DMV’s photo policy, which was updated in 2009:

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

Culpepper said he thinks people should be able to walk into the DMV and take a picture no matter what he or she is wearing.

“This is how I am every day. And if a police officer wanted to recognize how I am, then, he would want to see who I am in my picture as well,” said Culpepper.

His mom has stood behind him throughout and said she is appalled that her government is telling her son that he needs to conform to specific ideals of what a man should look like.

Culpepper hopes his story can be part of a movement toward change so that others don’t go through what he did.

Parks said that the staff at the DMV acted in accordance to policy. She said that Culpepper will not be allowed to take his photo with makeup because he needs to look like a male, as indicated on his legal identification.

Source: CNN/WHNS


  • FaithC

    So all the woman who wear a ton of makeup are ok, but this kid is not? When woman take their makeup off they can look totally different.

    • Irene Carmen

      Yes it is ok for woman to wear their makeup! Because they are WOMEN! It is NOT ok for a MAN to wear makeup. Because he is a MAN! Let’s keep the genders separate like they are intended to be by GOD! He didn’t make male and male couples. He didn’t make female and female couples. He made MAN AND WOMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Joana

        My question is..did God create make up? And said it is for women to change the way they look? No! This is something humans created. God never said that this powdery stuff he doesn’t know about cannot be used by’s just make up get over it. Let him be who he is. Nobody is stopping you from being an uptight, closed minded person.

      • FaithC

        Really? God said woman should wear makeup and men should not. Where did he say this? Ids it in the bible or did he tell you direct?

      • Ken

        Congrats Irene on getting the award for ignorant comment of the day. Go ahead and show us in that book of myths and fairy tales where God says only women should wear make up. Last time I checked, make up was a sign of vanity, which was a sin in that same book you put so much stock into. Still want to have the stance you have?

      • Dominique

        Are you kidding me Irene!? There is nothing nice I can say to you so I will not say anything more…..

  • sinner 3

    I quit spending money at Macs 10 years ago when the quality of their workers turned to gangster and chil pervert status !

    • NobodyAtAll

      Remember that jeans wear were originally designed as rugged wear for miners and cowboys..So can we tell all the ladies out there that they have to start wearing dresses?

  • Melissa

    I think its not being unfair on behalf of the DMV , if she is proud of who she is and plans on never changing then there shouldnt be a problem with going to the court and changing her name and gender. Its not like there forcing her to do something crazy.

    • RILLER

      The person is a male. Their driver’s license says they’re a male. Why do you keep referring to them as “she?”

  • daisydog

    Who would have EVER thought we would be having this issue!! The world is going to hell in a hand basket. God have mercy.

    • Mark Stabler

      Going, Lady this Nation is already there. In just a few short years we have moved to the most admired and respected Nation in the world to third class status economically, socially, and influentially. Many Nations now have a higher standard of living than the United States, better educational systems, less crime and happier citizens. Nations that treat our visiting citizens like trash are welcomed her with open arms even when they have illegally entered the Country. The government is expected to feed, house and cloth not only illegals but our own Citizens that are too sorry to care for themselves or their children. The rights of one supersede those of the common good. The path has been set and there is no turning back. Look at all the great civilizations in world history and look at us. History repeats its self over and over and over again.

      • Kaffie

        AMEN! Today I am ashamed to live in America! The last five, six years have completely ruined the respect for the USA. I never would have believed it would happen here. Transgender, a man is a man and a woman is a woman from birth until death!

      • Hmmm

        Mark – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s kinda cute that you think the USA was the most admired and respected nation in the world just a few short years ago. You are just soooooooo adorable.

  • My2€ent$

    Point is he is a male and has to look like a male..If he wants to be female he has to change genders and then DMV will let him take a picture as a female. …so tired of reading about stuff like this…If you want to be different, then be different. .but don’t whine every time you get treated “different” for be “different”..

    • Diane Purcell

      You’ve got a point there – but at the same time if a woman goes in and takes a picture for ID with a wig and makeup, but in reality has short hair and never wears makeup – the same argument can be used. Yeah, it would be better to establish his/her identity BEFORE seeking legal documents and such, but reality is things take time. DMV should just take the picture and let him deal with the situation if he has problems with it with that ID, in my opinion.

  • Diane Purcell

    ‘he needs to look like a male’? Shoot, I’ve seen some males that don’t look like males even without makeup! What about those with long hair – the DMV says nothing about that! Let him do as he pleases. It’s up to him to decide how to handle the situation when/if a cop pulls him over. (and leave religion out of it – this article and situation has nothing to do with your own personal beliefs…it’s about how DMV dealt with this person, NOT religion)

    • Maria

      Sorry but I didn’t see any “religion” posted anywhere in the comments except for “God have mercy” do you know for a fact that was a “religious” comment? Now I don’t know the person who said that but I do know people who are NOT of any “religion” who say that same phrase, just to be saying it. Now I agree let him take the picture as he may well please, but don’t blame anyone but himself if a cop stops him and questions him about it.

  • Sandy Jackson

    I Think DMV is correct, if not, what is to stop people from altering their appearance to get a driver’s license which IS a form of ID. Showing themselves as a blond instead of a brunette and yes even a female instead of a male to participate in criminal activity and mislead the police. I feel for this person but he needs to remember it is for safety reason because of the way people are now and not take it so personally. DMV needs to have as accurate a picture as they can get to represent the true gender of a person to keep the records straight and people honest.

    • molly

      How is it misleading? His license would indicate his gender as being m (male) so there should be no question. And since he normally wears makeup wouldnt a photo showing what he looked like on a day to day basis be more helpful?

    • D

      He lives his life looking the way he did when he went to get his picture taken. If he was to change the way he looks in the picture to look like a “man”. Then, went home put on make up and dressed like he ALWAYS does, then the picture of him looking like a “man” would not represent his true identity. DUH! Gosh, people need to get over it. Some people are different and this bull about how things should be is all from ignorant, closed minded bigots. F-U!

  • Diana

    I may agree with the DMV on this one. This article is only showing a picture of him dressed up as a girl, Another article I saw, along with his social networking page, show many pictures of him dressed as a male. So, does he dress as a woman in his everyday life, or as a man? The point of a photo ID is so that you can be identified, by police officers, airport security, etc. If he dresses as a woman for his photo ID, but goes through airport security dressed as a man, I imagine he is going to run into a number of problems. I think there is more to the DMV’s decision than what the family has said. It is illegal to make any attempt to conceal your identity on your drivers license (this would include wigs, sunglasses, fake mustaches, etc). Women wearing makeup on a DMV photo is not an attempt to conceal their identity, as that is how they normally present themselves. A boy who spends much of his time dressed as a boy, choosing to dress as a girl for his DMV photo could be construed as an attempt to conceal his identity. Now, I don’t know this person, and if it turns out that he spends most/if not all of his time dressed as a girl, than I think it would be acceptable for him to dress as such for his DMV photo. But, if in his everyday life (getting pulled over for speeding tickets, going through airport security), he dresses as a boy, I believe that his DMV photo should reflect that as well.

  • sinner 3

    He ? she? just wants two IDs for certain occasions I guess like ladys night and cheap drink prices !

  • ally

    What of women who have short man-like hair cuts & portray themselves as men. They are not required to grow their hair out to be more feminine nor are they told to put on makeup. Seems like a double standard.

  • Atticia

    I would think it would be more confusing if he were to get pulled over (or need to show his id for any other reason) and the picture (a “male”) didn’t match what he looks like on a regular basis. I think a photo id should look like the person. I think it would be hard for everyone to get on the same page with “what a male looks like” vs. “what a female looks like.” Everyone is so different.

  • auntboink

    Wearing make up doesnt change who you are inside. Who cares if you had to take it off. Your photo without make up looks just fine. That is who you truly are. You should be proud of that photo over any other and not just for a dmv photo either. Most teens dont truly like the way they look, that is normal for your age. Plus, No one usually likes their dmv photo anyways!

  • Irene Carmen

    To Ken and FaithC. Faith C Thank you so much for putting words where I had none. And I Quote you “Really? God said woman should wear makeup and men should not. Where did he say this? Ids it in the bible or did he tell you direct?” If you go back a REREAD my post, there isn’t anything there that says He said it! Assumption on your part and you know that saying about assume. Ken..I quote “Congrats Irene on getting the award for ignorant comment of the day. Go ahead and show us in that book of myths and fairy tales where God says only women should wear make up. Last time I checked, make up was a sign of vanity, which was a sin in that same book you put so much stock into. Still want to have the stance you have?” Again another assumption that I said God says. God says that a man shall not lay with another man as like a woman. And a female shall not lay with another female. That is an abomination in His eyes. SO YES I will still take this stance. I will stand up for what is right!!!!!!!!!!! Will you? You want your child to become like that? And be ridiculed???? I blame this whole thing on the parents. If the parents would step up, do the morally right thing and tell their child who they REALLY are, then this article wouldn’t even be on this site!!!

    • molly

      Why are you concerning yourself with his sexual preference? Its quite ignorant of you to assume hes “laying with” anyone male or female

  • molly

    Looks dont need to indicate wether he is male or female it clearly shows an m or f. His gender would have an m for male and the picture would show that he wears makeup….Since he is a male that wears makeup it seems like a pretty accurate representation

  • Tired of Stupid Conversations

    I find the concept of debating rules associated with privileges a very sad commentary on where we are as a country. You folks out there screaming let him do what he wants DO KNOW driving is a privilege, right? And with privileges come rules. He can follow the rules and drive, or do his own thing, be his own person, assert his right to be whatever he wants to be, and walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation. It’s that simple. That is, unless you think anyone should be able to do anything they want on your property, regardless of your rules for the privilege of visiting. There’s a correct argument, devoid of religious overtones, containing something most of this conversation doesn’t, common sense.

  • Sierra

    If they wouldn’t let him wear make up for his picture and said that he can’t wear make up to alter his looks and he needs to look like a man then women shouldn’t be allowed to wear make up to alter their looks either. By the way for the religious people talking about how God intended people to look. Women shouldnt wear make up either make up alters the look of how God intended each of us to look. It is vain and leads to greed, pride, envy, lust, and gluttony bc women wastefully over indulge on time and products. It is not the true way you look it’s dishonest and a lie, it causes idolatry, bearing false witness, adultery, There are four cardinal sins being broken and four of the ten commandments as well

  • John Smith

    I don’t necessarily agree with how he may have been treated. HOWEVER, You’re supposed to be au natural when your photo is taken with a neutral resting face. I think the real shame here, and what is a huge double standard is that most people DO smile and women DO wear makeup. The instructions for getting a license at least in the state where I am from clearly indicate that makeup and smiling are not allowed. Which should be followed by everyone regardless of gender. It’s a legal document. If you sign someone elses name it’s forgery. People seem to forget that these photos are used for facial recognition and changing the color or contours of your face in the reference photo will screw up the entire process of finding a match. A license also is a privilege NOT a right. If you cannot follow the guidelines towards receiving one you shouldn’t be receiving one.

  • mark

    Thank you Fox for publishing this story and spreading the word that not everyone fits neatly into societal boxes

  • Liz

    True beauty comes naturally…..nobody really need makeup, just be properly groomed and attired especially when it comes to legal identification, however this is ridiculous, be what God mean’t you to be! I am not preaching, but it SICK & DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!

  • fred from PA.

    Seems like this kid has a gender identity crisis. The mother is supporting the child but what about the father? Or, is he a single parent child? Either way, this is sick and I support the SC DMV’s decision.

  • Kaddi

    I agree with DMV’s decision! Would be no different than one of the Kiss band members wanting to be photographed with all their make up on stating this is the way they look when they go to work (the make up is deceiving). This young man (according to birth certificate) and on all his legal documents…..should be seen in government photo as a young man. What he wears and how he looks once he leaves government facility is his business. No different than a Muslim woman wanting to be photographed with her face covered, stating religious reasons, and denied by DMV! Will definitely raise some eyebrows and questions when carded ( he could be using ID to deceive men) …..but police officers need to know right away that they’re dealing with a man and not a woman (if the situation occurs)! There will always be rules and laws that many will argue/disagree with! They’re there for a reason!

    • CP

      You’re drawing false comparisons. He’s not wearing any more make-up than a typical woman would. If they don’t ask women to remove the same amount of make-up, then they shouldn’t be asking him.

  • Fred from PA

    Probably the only reason the School and McDonald’s let’s him dress that way is because they don’t want a lawsuit on their hands. With McDonald’s he would have to wear a uniform. Plus, if he is not waiting on people not too many will see him. This kid seems to be not only telling God I don’t like the way you made me, but also to his parents. I wonder how many friends this kid really has? The child has a problem, and it seems like the mother is too scared to tell the kid you shouldn’t be acting/dressing this way.

  • mark

    I hear Iran has a high “secs change” rate because feminine and mm men are illegal… we are more free than that, let’s keep it that way. God bless the USA

  • suhrman13

    Honestly God should have nothing to do with this debate. Because this country has freedom of religion. So it doesn’t matter if God said that or not if the guy wants to wear makeup because that is who he is then that’s his choice and from what it sounds like he always looks like that anyways. Some people in this country forget that not everyone believes in God or the crazy made up rules that hard core catholics believe in. Maybe he’s an atheist or just not an idiot and knows he is the way he is because that’s how God made him.

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