DMV Won't Give Kid a License Until He Washes Makeup Off His Face
by Jeanne Sager
As far as milestones for teenagers go, the trip to the DMV is one of the biggies. It's supposed to be a happy occasion -- for the kids anyway (Mom and Dad, just go ahead and cry) -- but it was anything but for a South Carolina teen recently. Chase Culpepper went to get his license photo snapped only to be told by motor vehicles officials that he'd have to clean the makeup off his face if he wanted a driver's license.
The incident back in March is now making national news as it opens up a discussion about children's rights to freely express themselves.
Chase, who prefers male pronouns, wears dresses and makeup regularly, so it made sense to him to wear it for his driver's license photo. After all, the photo is supposed to represent what you look like should a police officer stop you, isn't it? But DMV officials reportedly told him he had to remove the makeup and would not take his photo if he did not look "the way a boy should."
At the time the teen acquiesced. He washed his face because he wanted his license. What kid wouldn't do the same? It's hard for teenagers to know when they should and shouldn't fight "the man," when they really have the law on their side.
Now he's got the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund -- and his parents -- on his side in a fight to have the photo retaken, makeup included. Good for them.
The whole case is frustrating for parents who are trying to raise open-minded kids in a society that is not always so welcoming. But it's also one that highlights our need as parents to talk to our kids about their rights. Just because they're kids doesn't mean they have any less of a right to free speech than adults, and the Supreme Court has upheld that right.
Our kids need to know when they can -- and should -- stand up for themselves. Because if they can't do it as teens, how are they going to be able to do it as adults?
What would you have done if you were Chase's parents?