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New DMV policy extends transgender equality

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Transgender West Virginians may now be photographed for their driver’s license without being required to remove a wig, jewelry or makeup, a now-banned policy LGBT advocacy groups considered humiliating and unconstitutional.

The rule change was made official Tuesday when the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles rewrote its policy to allow transgender residents to be photographed as they regularly appear. Another policy change also will allow transgender residents to switch the gender marker on their license if they submit a form signed by a doctor.

The shift in policy comes after several transgender women and the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund threatened to sue the state of West Virginia following incidents last year in Martinsburg and Charles Town where DMV officials refused to photograph the women until they removed their jewelry and makeup.

Last year, Trudy Kitzmiller and Kristen Skinner, both transgender women transitioning from male to female, attempted to update their driver’s license to reflect their legal name change, a requirement of state law. Despite having court orders documenting their legal name changes, the two women claim they were discriminated against by DMV clerks. Both women were called “it” by DMV clerks…

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