No Eyeliner Allowed in Driver’s License Photo


COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) – The South Carolina DMV unconstitutionally demands that a 16-year-old boy remove his “everyday” foundation, mascara, eye shadow and lip gloss before it takes his driver’s license photo, the boy’s mom claims in court.
     Teresa Culpepper sued the state and local directors of the Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday, in Federal Court, on behalf of her son, “C.C.”
     “This case is about the unconstitutional requirement that C. C., a 16-year-old high school student, remove his everyday makeup before being permitted to take a driver’s license photo. C. C. is male, but is gender nonconforming. He wears makeup and androgynous clothing or clothing typically worn by women on a regular basis,” his mom says in the complaint.
     Culpepper says her son passed his driving test and satisfied all other requirements for a license, but when they went to the Anderson office of the DMV in March, a DMV employee complemented C.C. on his makeup, but said he would not be able to wear fake eyelashes in the picture.
     “C.C. and his mother informed her that his eye lashes were real,” Culpepper says in the complaint.
     “The employee then said she needed to speak with a supervisor and left to do so.
     “She returned and told C. C. that her supervisor had stated that he needed to ‘go home’ and ‘take off the makeup.’
     “C. C. and his mother informed the employee that C. C. wears makeup daily and that how he looked at the time is how he looks on a regular basis.”
     Defendant Tammy King, manager of the DMV’s Anderson office, then told them that “C. C. could not take his driver’s license photograph while wearing his regular everyday makeup,” because “it was in her ‘discretion’ to not allow C. C. to have his driver’s license photo taken if she felt he was wearing a disguise.”
     “C. C.’s mother asked defendant King if a female applicant seeking a driver’s license wearing makeup of the kind C. C. was wearing, i.e., foundation, mascara, eye shadow, and lip gloss, was required to remove her makeup prior to taking a photograph for a driver’s license.
     “Defendant King did not respond to plaintiff’s question,” Culpepper says.
     She adds: “There is no disputing, and the SCDMV has acknowledged, that C.C. wears makeup on a regular basis. However, the SCDMV and its employees have interpreted the policy to prohibit a male applicant from wearing regular everyday makeup that they allow female applicants to wear under the same policy.”
     She claims the defendants discriminated against her son because of “their preconceived notion of how males should and can look. This preconceived notion is a sex stereotype and does not constitute a legitimate state interest.”
     “Defendants impermissibly discriminated against C.C. based on his sex and their sex stereotype,” Culpepper says. “They unconstitutionally restrained C. C.’s freedom of expression and compelled and continue to compel him to convey an ideological message of their design. And they deprived C.C. of his constitutionally protected liberty interest in his personal appearance. Moreover, defendants’ policy is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, enabling SCDMV personnel to make arbitrary and capricious decisions based on their perception of how a particular individual should look as male or female.”
     Culpepper seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and asks that the court strike the DMV policy as unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, and an unconstitutional grant of unfettered discretion.
     She is represented by Marshall Winn and Wallace K. Lightsey of Wyche, P.A., in Greenville.

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