Two women claim the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles is discriminating against them. They want to update their driver's license photos, but have been turned away. The problem is not a simple one. Both are transgender.
Trudy Kitzmiller of Mount Storm, WV, and Kristen Skinner of Ranson, WV, are going through sex change operations. They have said it's a difficult life decision. They did not realize how hard it would be to update their photos at the West Virginia DMV. "They simply went to the DMV with a court order from the state court that stated their names have been changed to Trudy and Kristen, respectively," said Michael Silverman, the Executive Directory with Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
The DMV would not allow them to update their driver's license photos to show that they are now women, despite the fact they went through the legal process of changing their names. "Your photograph on your drivers license is to reflect your identity and the physical characteristics on your driver's license. Their driver's license still had an"M" for male. Any attempt to conceal their true identity or their appearance would be considered in the same manner of a ball cap over your eyes or a scarf," said Steve Dale, the West Virginia DMV Commissioner.
When the two women weren't able to update their photos, they accused the DMV staff of discrimination. "When it came time for them to become photographed, they weren't just addressed as "its", they refused to take their pictures unless they altered their appearance by removing their wigs and makeup," said Silverman.
"If it was some inappropriate language used or they felt they were the subject of slurs, I will apologize for that," said Dale.
Dale is currently investigating the matter. He says his employees are told to treat people properly. "Our employees are trained and our policies are to treat our applicants with respect," said Dale.
As for Trudy and Kristen, they are waiting for a response from the DMV and hope this issue is resolved. "Trudy and Kristen just want the opportunity to return to the DMV to have their photos taken to how they look everyday," said Silverman.