In 2014 Kristen Skinner attempted to update her driver’s license at the DMV, following her transition from male to female; Kristen is transgender, which means she was raised male but always knew that didn’t quite fit, and so she transitioned to live every day as the woman she has long known herself to be. She wanted to update her driver’s license to reflect her new legal name and appearance. Kristen was met with hostility and harassment by DMV officials, who insisted that she remove her makeup, jewelry and other items in order to try to look male in her license photo. The DMV’s existing license photo policy prohibited license applicants from “misrepresenting gender.” TLDEF contacted the DMV, attempting to resolve the issue without litigation, but when that failed, the legal organization announced its intent to file suit against the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Because of the pressure, the department announced a new policy in July of 2015 allowing transgender people to be photographed as they regularly present for their driver’s licenses.
“I am so happy that I can update my driver’s license to reflect who I truly am as a transgender woman,” Kristen said at the time. “It has taken me a long time to embrace my authentic self, and it has not been easy. No one deserves to be treated with the disrespect I encountered at the DMV. This new policy ensures that transgender West Virginians will be treated fairly at the DMV. Transgender people need accurate driver’s licenses that reflect who we truly are, and now we will be able to get them.”