Transgender female turned away at Baton Rouge OMV for not looking like a man

Published: Sep. 9, 2015 at 3:20 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2015 at 3:44 AM CDT
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Baton Rouge location of the Office of Motor Vehicles (Source: WAFB)
Baton Rouge location of the Office of Motor Vehicles (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A self-identified transgender woman was denied a driver's license at the Baton Rouge Office of Motor Vehicles on Friday after being told she did not suitably look like a man.

"It's such discrimination that you just feel powerless," Alexandra Glover said.

Born a boy named Dylan, Glover's birth certificate says she is a male. While at the OMV to replace a lost ID card, Glover wore makeup and a dress, which was a red flag for the clerk.

"If you have makeup on or anything like that, you're supposed to take all that off, because you are actually man," the clerk told Glover.

"Our employees cannot take a photograph of someone who is portraying themselves to be somebody they are not," said Stephen Campbell, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles for Louisiana.

Since 1986, state motor vehicle policy has stated the following:

"At no time will an applicant be photographed when it is obvious he/she is misrepresenting his/her gender and/or purposely alternating his/her appearance in an effort which would "misguide/misrepresent" his/her identity."

"I'm not misrepresenting my gender. I mean just because it says male on my ID shouldn't matter," Glover said.

The commissioner said "representing" one's gender is a safety issue when on the roads.

"This is all based on the law enforcement need to identify someone if they're stopped as a result of a traffic infraction, if they're involved in a serious crash," Campbell said. "If someone has taken a picture and altered it to look like a female, and [law enforcement and EMS] got a deceased person there with a document in their back pocket that say they're male or female and they appear to be the other, that's terribly confusing and can lead to a whole host of things."

However, Glover said how she looked at the OMV is how she looks every day, so removing her make-up would have in fact made her look different than her ID if she were to be pulled over or in an accident.

"You should look like what you look like on your ID," she said.

"In this case, the individual was clearly was appearing to be female and was making himself up to be female in spite of the fact that his driver's license was to a male," Campbell said.

"That's like saying there are certain things you have to look like in order to be this gender, and that's not true. Not everybody in the world has a beard, not everyone has a mustache," Glover said.

So how do clerks at the OMV identify what a man should look like?

"We have no specific guidelines for that other than obvious kinds of things like a male wearing a dress," Campbell said. "It is subjective. It clearly is subjective."

In fact, on previous trips to the OMV, Glover was photographed and received an ID card.

"My hair was shorter and I didn't wear as much makeup as I do now, and I'm guessing they thought that was more socially acceptable," Glover said.

Glover still has not gotten an ID card.

As for state policy for changing gender identity on a license, Louisiana requires a statement from a physician stating individual has successfully undergone gender transition in order for a new ID card to be issued.

A statement was released by Louisiana Trans Advocates and Equality Louisiana on the OMV driver's license policy:

"Louisiana Trans Advocates and Equality Louisiana acknowledge that no one should misrepresent themselves or aim to deceive others when taking the photo for their driver's license. Transgender people are not trying to deceive anyone. They only wish to live their lives as who they are.

"It is vitally important that transgender people have identification that matches the way they look in their everyday lives.

"We must do better to treat all Louisianians with respect and fairness. Our organizations are reaching out to the OMV and hope to work with them to implement policy changes that improve the lives of transgender people. Our organizations remain committed to working towards full equality regardless of who you are or who you love."

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