September 1, 2014

Gender Non-Conforming Teen to File Federal Lawsuit against South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles after Being Forced to Remove Makeup for Driver's License Photo

Suit Alleges Violation of Teen's First Amendment Rights & Sex Discrimination under U.S. Constitution

Complaint Asks Court to Order DMV to Allow Teen to Wear Makeup in New License Photo

New York, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) will hold a press conference on Tuesday, September 2, on the South Steps of the South Carolina State House in Columbia to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles on behalf of a 16-year-old gender non-conforming teen who was targeted for discrimination last March.  When he attempted to get his first driver’s license, Chase Culpepper was told by the DMV that he could not take his license photo unless he removed the makeup that he wears on a regular basis.

The suit – brought by Chase’s mother Teresa Culpepper on his behalf as a minor – asks the court to rule that denying Chase the freedom to wear his everyday makeup in his license photo constitutes sex discrimination and violates his right to free speech and expression under the United States Constitution. It also seeks a ruling under the U.S. and South Carolina Constitutions that the DMV’s photo policy is unconstitutionally vague, too broad, and lets DMV employees arbitrarily decide how a driver's license applicant should look, without regard for the rights of the people they are supposed to serve.

WHAT: Press Conference Announcing Federal Lawsuit against the South Carolina DMV

WHEN: Tuesday, September, 2, 11 AM

WHERE: South Carolina State House, South Steps, Columbia, South Carolina

WHO: Plaintiff Chase Culpepper and his mother Teresa Culpepper; and Michael Silverman, Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

PRESS CONTACT: Cindi Creager, CreagerCole Communications,, (646) 279-4559

WHY: “Chase Culpepper is entitled to be himself and to express his gender non-conformity without interference from the South Carolina DMV,” said TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman. “It is not the role of the DMV or any government agency or employee to decide how men and women should look. Chase should be able to get a driver’s license without being subjected to sex discrimination.”