Transgender woman gets new driver's license after facing alleged discrimination at W.Va. DMV

Applicants won't be asked to remove makeup, accessories or hairpieces

KEARNEYSVILLE, W. Va. - On Thursday, Kristen Skinner went to the DMV just like everyone else and walked out with a new drivers license. It's a form of identification that's she's been waiting for.

"I think it will put to bed the upsetting incident that happened the last time around, and I think it's just going to give me some more confidence in my regular day-to-day activities," Skinner said.

Last year, Skinner and another transgender woman, Trudy Kitzmiller, were attempting to update their driver's licenses when they were allegedly discriminated against and called "it" at two separate West Virginia DMV offices.

On July 1, the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles updated its photo policy for the first time in 12 years. The updated policy states driver's license "applicants, including but not limited to transgendered individuals, will not be asked to remove or modify makeup, clothing, hair style or hairpiece(s), or accessories unless any of these items obscure the required biometric features of the applicant's face or neck."

"Inclusiveness doesn't hurt anybody, so by treating people differently and setting them apart, you create a different second class of citizens, and that's just not right," Skinner said.

This summer, the DMV also updated its policy allowing transgender individuals to change the gender marker on their license after submitting paperwork from their doctor. The West Virginia DMV said its policy was revised to reflect changes in our current society.

Kitzmiller believes the fight for transgender equality is far from over, but these changes are a step in the right direction.

"To be able to be authentic with myself and to you know, express myself for who I am, you know I believe it's going to do a lot of good for the transgender community in this state," Kitzmiller said.

The new policy change comes after the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) threatened a lawsuit against the DMV on behalf of a group of transgendger women.

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