Transgender West Virginians May Now Get Accurate Driver’s Licenses With Photos Reflecting Their True Selves
Posted by Melanie Nathan, July 7, 2015 –
West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can no longer tell Trans people how to dress for their photos in West Virginia. The Department has changed its license photo policy to allow transgender individuals to be photographed as they regularly appear, under threat of lawsuit by a LGBT rights organization.
The DMV’s new policy comes in response to the Transgender Legal Defense Fund’s (TLDEF) threat of litigation on behalf of a group of transgender women who were told by the DMV that they would not receive driver’s licenses unless they changed their regular appearance to try to look male in their license photos.
In 2014, Trudy Kitzmiller and Kristen Skinner attempted to update their driver’s licenses to reflect their new legal names and appearances at separate DMV offices in West Virginia. They were met with hostility and harassment by DMV officials who insisted that they remove their makeup, jewelry and other items in order to try to look male in their license photos. Both women were called “it” by DMV staff. The DMV’s existing license photo policy prohibited license applicants from “misrepresenting gender.”
Soon after, TLDEF contacted the DMV on behalf of Trudy and Kristen in an attempt to resolve the matter without litigation.
TLDEF explained that Trudy and Kristen were transgender women who just wanted license photos that looked the way they do on a regular basis. The letter further explained that forcing Trudy & Kristen to remove their makeup and other items to try to make them look male before allowing them to take their license photos restricted their free speech rights and amounted to sex discrimination in violation of state and federal constitutional protections. TLDEF asked that the women be given the opportunity to have their license photos taken while appearing as they normally do.