Chase Culpepper can now wear what she wants, including makeup, when she re-takes her driver license photograph. The South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles has promised to change its ways and apologize to the 17 year-old, to avoid defending itself in court.
“I am thrilled with the outcome of my lawsuit,” Chase said in a statement. “My clothing and makeup reflect who I am. From Day 1, all I wanted was to get a driver’s license that looks like me. Now I will be able to do that. It was hurtful to be singled out for being transgender and made to feel that somehow I wasn’t good enough.”
The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced the legal settlement of the federal suit this morning, which will mean sweeping changes at the DMV.
Agency officials declined to comment. Court records show that under terms of the settlement, the DMV will revise its policy on photo credentials and train its staff on the proper treatment of “transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.”
In March 2014, Chase was ordered to remove her makeup under a DMV policy that barred applicants from dressing in a way that might disguise their appearance. She previously identified as male but now identifies as female.
The Los Angeles Times reports the new policy takes effect in May, and will clarify that “when the applicant’s makeup, clothing or accessories do not match traditional expectations,” they are not misrepresenting their identity.
According to one of Chase’s representatives, the DMV will also apologize to Chase and her mother as part of her settlement. No money changed hands and TLDEF represented Chase pro-bono.