April 22, 2015

TLDEF to Announce Settlement in Federal Lawsuit Against South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles on Behalf of Transgender Teen Forced to Remove Makeup for Driver's License Photo

Suit Alleged Violation of Teen’s First Amendment Rights & Sex Discrimination Under U.S. Constitution

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

(Please note: At the time of the incident and lawsuit filing, we referred to Chase as gender nonconforming and used male pronouns in accordance with her wishes. Chase has since begun identifying as transgender and using female pronouns and our discussion of her case reflects that here.)

New York, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) will hold a press conference at 11 am today to announce a settlement in the federal lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles on behalf of a 17-year-old transgender teen who was targeted for discrimination in March, 2014. When she attempted to get her first driver’s license, Chase Culpepper was told by the DMV that she could not take her license photo unless she removed the makeup that she wears on a regular basis.

The suit asked the court to rule that denying Chase the freedom to wear her everyday makeup in her license photo constituted sex discrimination and violated her right to free speech and expression under the United States Constitution. It also argued that the DMV’s photo policy was unconstitutionally vague, too broad, and allowed DMV employees to arbitrarily decide how a driver's license applicant should look, including based on unconstitutional gender stereotypes.

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

WHEN: Wednesday, April 22, 11:00 AM

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

WHO: Plaintiff Chase Culpepper and her mother Teresa Culpepper; and Ethan Rice, Staff Attorney from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

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