I'll never forget the last time I trekked to the Brooklyn Department of Motor Vehicles for my driver's license photo. I made sure to put extra effort into my makeup. My hair was freshly styled, and my tube of MAC Russian Red was packed in preparation for the crucial snapshot. You can only imagine my upset when the printer handed me a black-and-white plastic card. My red-lip fabulosity was reduced to sepia tones! This wasn't the first time I had a run-in with the camera operator, either.
There was also the scarf scandal of 2010. I planned to rock my chic turban look for the photo (because my hair was definitely not photo-ready). The DMV employee proceeded to tell me that I had to remove my headdress for the government-issued shot. But it was essential to my look! Obviously, I staged a one-woman walkout sans new license (cue up Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty"). While I was denied my fashion-forward hair accessory, the DMV cameraman merely laughed at my lipstick antics. One 16-year-old faced a completely different situation in South Carolina when she attempted to wear makeup for her first driver's license photo.
Chase Culpepper was asked to remove her makeup before taking a license photo. However, the transgender boy regularly wears cosmetics and female-associated clothing as a part of his daily life (and I must say, she looks beautiful!). According to CNN, Culpepper's mother is filing a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles as a result of this incident. The DMV policy states that "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." But if Culpepper typically wears lip gloss or foundation, isn't her lack of makeup the real misrepresentation? Especially when female counterparts, like myself, are never denied red lipstick and a dab of concealer.
Update: The aformentioned federal lawsuit against the South Carolina DMV has been resolved! Culpepper can now take a new license photo wearing the makeup and clothing she feels most comfortable in. "I am thrilled with the outcome of my lawsuit," she said in a statement. "My clothing and makeup reflect who I am. From day one, all I wanted was to get a driver's license that looks like me. Now I will be able to do that." The new policy, which takes effect in May, allows transgender citizens to wear makeup, wigs, false eyelashes, and more as long as that is a true representation of their daily identity.