Saturday, September 6, 2014

South Carolina - don't go there if you're different

This information was brought to me by, once again, my baby, who said something to the effect of, "You're not gonna believe this shit." Yes, dear, I do. Not a big surprise. I'd love to be able to show you the pic that accompanies the article, but it's an Reuters photo, so I don't dare. Instead, I'll give you a pic of Chaz Bono - not the same, but you get the picture (no pun intended). I can, however, give you the link and let you look for yourself.

South Carolina boy sues over makeup removal for driver's license photo

It seems this young man went to the local office of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Charleston, South Carolina, to get his first driver's license. That, of course, requires a photograph. And that's where the trouble started.

You see, Chase Culpepper is a transgendered individual. He regularly wears women's clothing and makeup, and if you'll take a look at the link above, you'll see why. If I hadn't known what the article was about and you'd shown me the photo, I would've said, "Oh, what a lovely young woman!" He says he identifies as a gender-nonconformist. So I guess you're wondering what all the fuss is about.

Let me ask you this: Ladies, if you went to the DMV to have your driver's license photo taken and they told you to take off your makeup because you were attempting to alter your appearance so as to make your identity more difficult to ascertain, what would you say? I don't know what you'd say, but I sure as hell know what I'd say, and it wouldn't be pretty. And I'm fairly certain I'd leave without a license, and most likely in handcuffs. Do they ask women to take theirs off? I'm guessing they don't or we'd already know about it. I don't know about anyone else, but if my makeup didn't alter my appearance, I'd throw it away and go get something else that worked better.

What happened next was predictable. In June, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund sent a letter asking that Chase be allowed to do a retake in his makeup. Three months later, after getting no reply from the state, the organization filed suit. Thank goodness.

Something similar happened to my son years ago during his college days when he worked for Walmart. He had an earring. We're not talking a gauge here, or a hoop, or any of that stuff. We're talking about a simple stud. Management came around and told all of the guys that they had to take them out. And of course, being MY son, he asked a pointed question: What about the women? Shouldn't they have to take theirs out too? He was answered with a "well, that's different" kind of off-hand brush-off. His next question: How? How was it different? How does whether or not you have a penis or vagina determine what kind of jewelry you can wear, or where on your body, for that matter? Doesn't that qualify as sexual discrimination? (That's my boy. I was so proud.)

The issue was dropped. He got to keep the earring. But I'm disturbed that, based on this article, I'm assuming the state of South Carolina had encouraged discussions regarding this situation and those like it in advance so that employees were fully prepared to discriminate as soon as Chase walked through the door. And that bothers me. I'm a little shocked that they didn't make him go to a restroom with an employee and drop his pants so they could confirm that he should remove his makeup. We're not talking about clown makeup here. We're not discussing a mask so no one knew who he was. We're talking about the same makeup women all over America wear on a daily basis. I'm guessing if the kids at his school were shown a pic of him in the makeup, they'd know full well who he was because he wears it every damn day.

The biggest difference in these two situations is that one is a private employer and the other is a governmental agency. Big difference - huge, huge difference. While Walmart could have enforced the rule, let someone sue them, and had the court system hash it out, this is a governmental agency with an obligation to serve the taxpayers. There is little recourse without going to a state supreme court, because that's where it will go, and maybe to the U.S. Supreme Court. And I hope it does. If this isn't settled, here's what you can expect.

Do you have a penis? You can't wear makeup.
Do you have a penis? You can't wear a dress.
Do you have a vagina? You can't wear pants.
Do you have a vagina? You can't hold that job.
Do you have a penis? You can't wear that jewelry.
Do you have a vagina? You can't go to that club.
Do you have a vagina? You can't wear your hair that short.
Do you have a penis? You can't wear your hair that long.

Do you see where this is going? Do you see the precedent this would set? It would essentially open the door to everything we've fought against for years. It would set us back at least fifty years, maybe more. I won't even get into the racial inplications - horrendous.

Before you start spouting bible verses at me and telling me how perverse Chase is, let me remind you, the first time you go to a governmental body and they won't serve you because you don't look exactly as they'd like, hair color, cut, clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc., how will you feel? Don't come back here crying like a little bitch to me. I'll have no sympathy for your bigoted ass - none.

I think the most disturbing part of this, to me anyway, is that this rule was made in 2009, well after LGBTQ issues had come to the forefront and we were doing battle with those who require conformity in all things. Life isn't black and white, folks. If you want the leniency to be who you are, you have to let others be who they are too. It's a two-way street.

So remember: Don't color your hair. Leave your Revlon at home. Watch what you wear. Otherwise, in South Carolina, you may not be able to drive.

I have the solution: Let's all go apply for our driver's licenses naked. No hiding our identities that way, huh? Wonder what they'd say to that?

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