In 2014 Capri Culpepper went to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to get her first driver’s license – but an exciting milestone quickly devolved into an embarrassing and harmful experience with discrimination. Capri is a transgender girl. That means she was born and raised as a boy but knew from a young age that that didn’t quite fit, and so she transitioned to live every day as the woman she long knew herself to be. The photographer at the DMV told Capri that they could not take her photo unless she removed the makeup that she wears on a regular basis. The DMV said that Capri needed to “look male” in her license photo and refused to provide her with the license unless she removed the makeup that she was wearing. Capri took the case to court and ultimately won the case, with the DMV changing its photo policy to allow license applicants to be photographed the way they appear regularly, agreeing to implement training for professional treatment of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, and allowing Capri to get her license photograph as she should have been able to in the first place.
“My clothing and makeup reflect who I am,” Capri said at the time. “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. It was hurtful to be singled out for being transgender and made to feel that somehow I wasn’t good enough. With this settlement, the DMV can no longer force transgender people to look like someone they’re not. I’m so glad that I stood up for what’s right and helped make positive change for transgender and gender nonconforming people.”