DMV In West Virginia Gets Policy Change After Transgender Women Threaten Lawsuit

The West Viriginia DMV has reversed a policy which dictated how transgender residents could dress for their license photos, which is a definite victory for the transgender residents that saw it as unconstitutional.

This policy was formally changed on July 1, following a threat from five transgender women who claimed that they were harassed or forced into removing makeup while trying to update their driver’s license information last year, according to the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.

This is the second time in a fairly short space of time that the policy rules tat require transgender men or women to alter their usual appearance have been relaxed.

One of the women involved, Kristen Skinner, said in a recent interview that the Charles Town DMV repeatedly called her an “it” and asked her to remove her makeup when updating her photo. She further said: “It is such a critical thing to us. It’s not an easy process coming to terms with this, and to have somebody else more or less invalidate you at the state level is horrible.”

The new policy says that drivers will “will not be asked to remove or modify makeup, clothing, hair style or hairpiece(s).”

Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Michael Silvermann said that the changes signified that government officials were being forced into being more conscious of how they treat transgender people. He went on record, saying: “I’m comfortable saying that we are seeing a change in the world around us. We are hearing more public discussion about transgender people from Laverne Cox [star of Orange is the New Black] and Caitlyn Jenner, who are shining a light on the unique challenges that transgender people face.”

He went on to say that the struggle transgender people face to obtain proper identification photos is a practical problem, as well as a civil rights issue. A gender conflicted driver’s license can cause all sorts of problems, including impacting your ability to work, or receive benefits. He finished up  by saying that he was unsure of how many states forced residents to conform to gender norms for a driver’s license photo.