Two transgender women say they were ordered to take off their makeup, jewelry and wigs at West Virginal Division of Motor Vehicles offices or they would not get new driver’s license photos.
In the process, they say they were belittled, and called names such as “it.”
“The manager told the agent I was working with, ‘It’ needs to remove ‘its’ makeup and false eyelashes,”’ said Kristen Skinner, a Ranson resident.
Skinner, 45, left the Division of Motor Vehicles office in Charles Town in January with a license featuring her new female name and a headshot she says looks nothing like her.
Trudy Kitzmiller, 52, described a similar experience in May at the Martinsburg office. Disheartened, she left without a new license and kept her old one with the wrong name and an inaccurate photo.
“They dehumanized me,” said Kitzmiller, a Mount Storm resident.
Late last month, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund wrote the state Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, to ask for new photos for the two women. The letter said denying them of that would violate constitutional free-speech rights.
Under West Virginia law, the two women will need to see a judge first, according to the division’s acting commissioner, Steven Dale.
Like several other states, West Virginia requires a circuit court order for someone to change gender on a driver’s license. A judge has to acknowledge the person completed gender change procedures.
Skinner and Kitzmiller are both still undergoing medical treatment for their gender switches.
Otherwise, wearing makeup as a man could be construed as an attempt to conceal or disguise one’s identity.
It is akin to a face-covering scarf or a hat, though the decision about what someone can wear can vary case by case, Dale said.
“Until these two drivers take the steps necessary to change their gender to the satisfaction of a Circuit Court Judge, their photographs must reflect their identities as males,” Dale said.