Trans Women Face Hideous and Dehumanizing DMV Discrimination In West Virginia

West Virginia isn't known for being hospitable to anyone who is LGB or T, and as is so unfortunately often the case trans people tend to get it the worst.

Kristen Skinner and Trudy KitzmillerOn May 10, 52-year-old Mount Storm resident Trudy Kitzmiller went in to the DMV to have her license updated with her legal name and new photo. Even though she brought all of the proper court documents, Kitzmiller was told to remove her wig and all makeup before they would take the picture, and was called "it" during the process by a hostile DMV employee.

Similarly, 45-year-old Ranson resident Kristen Skinner went to the Charles Town DMV on January 7 for the same reasons, received similar treatment. Just like Kitzmiller, Skinner was called "it" and was told to remove her wig, makeup, and false eyelashes…even though the "wig" was her own hair and the eyelashes were natural. Skinner relented and removed her makeup in order to have her photograph taken.

On June 30th, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund contacted the West Virginia DMV requesting that the two women be allowed to have their photographs taken of them as they normally are.

Other women are permitted to wear makeup and items that facilitate female gender expression in their driver’s license photos as a matter of course, yet Trudy and Kristen were targeted for suppression simply because they are transgender women. Forcing them to remove their makeup and other items that facilitate a female gender expression before allowing them to take their driver’s license photos restricts their free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections.


  1. Rob says

    I am deeply saddened by the unending cruelty of small & close minded people. I wish these two ladies only the best and I hope that the DMV clerks get the life they deserve – oh, wait that at least has already started – they work at DMV.

  2. Hrm says

    See this one’s odd, because in both the original story and this one, NO ONE mentions any effort to verify the story. No request for a statement. Nothing but a small bit about someone contacting them. Didn’t anyone ask for a statement? A response? No media request at all? I’m leery about putting much into this based on the fact that it’s all based on a random blog post, rather than a story with ANY follow-up at all.

  3. Matthew says

    Seriously? All of you mocking the appearance of these transwomen should learn some historic perspective. It wasn’t that long ago (and still happens some places), that narrowminded heteros mocked gay men and lesbians for not looking “normal” (i.e. straight).

  4. says

    @HRM: A statement from whom? The acting DMV commissioner has made statements about the incident and says they are “investigating.” (He defended–dubiously, in my opinion–the state’s policies but not the alleged treatment.) Kristen and Trudy have made statements, as has the Transgender Legal Defense team on their behalf. It’s been reported in several newspapers, not just in a random blog post.

  5. Eddie says

    1. This story has nothing to do with gay people. Why is it here?

    2. The state needs driver ID photos to reflect the licensee as he appears day-to-day. You can’t dramatically alter your usual appearance with wigs, hair dye, crazy glasses, colored contacts, etc. The same rule applies with your passport photo. Unless those wigs and false eyelashes are daily wear, the DMV was right to make them come off.

    3. Interesting that LGB organizations like Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund are all obligated to convert themselves into “LGBT” orgs, even though transgenders contribute nothing. But apparently, it is perfectly fine for the “Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund” to exist and serve only Ts. Apparently, we are only “all in this together” when the Ts can get something out of us.

    4. Just a few weeks ago, we read about a trans student who calls himself “Hex” and who disrupted a panel discussion that included Dan Savage. Hex demanded to be referred to as “it” and it complained that anyone who didn’t honor its wishes would be guilty of misgendering. The DMV workers were educated by that trans activist and were respectfully referring to these 2 brawny motor vehicle operators as it. We should all learn Hex’s lesson and refer to trannies as “it.”

  6. Tyler says

    And real Tylers don’t post transphobic BS all over this blog. Only Rick does that.

    Hey Rick :)

    If your’e going to impersonate me, at least be subtle about it.

  7. Derrick from Philly says

    @ “We should all learn Hex’s lesson and refer to trannies as ‘it'”

    Well, we really don’t know what Hex has to say on this matter. But we’ll gladly grant your wish for you to be referred to as “it” on this blog…if you like.

    Is it okay, Andy?

  8. TheDrDonna says

    1. LGBT site, not gay site.
    2. They’re trans women. It was explained quite clearly that they were wearing what they usually wear.
    3. I could go into privilege and power dynamics and all that, but you wouldn’t be interested and honestly it’s not worth my time and effort. What I will say is that there are a lot of organizations dedicated to queer people of color out there, and I don’t see anybody saying that they should focus more on white people or that “white” LGBT groups were “forced” to be integrated. Why aren’t you out there tilting at that windmill as well?
    4. There are loudmouths and troublemakers in every population. Even if things played out exactly as you described, which is unlikely given your obvious animus toward trans people in the rest of your comment, that would not be indicative of how all trans people wish to be addressed and that person’s behavior is not representative of the whole. Only an assh0le or an idiot would try to paint a whole diverse community with the actions of a single member of that community, like Pastor Ssempa claiming all gays “eat da poo poo”.

  9. says


    1. Towleroad has always posted trans-related stories, always will, especially because of morons like you. Don’t like it, simple solution: read elsewhere.

    2. Yes, a driver’s license should reflect how a person appears day-to-day. Common sense. And that is precisely how they wanted to be photographed. (Which was obvious in the post for those with reading comprehension skills.)

    3. Lambda Legal is free to represent whomever they please. They’re not obligated to include trans people; they want to. If didn’t want to, they wouldn’t. There are a number of gay-centered org’s (marriage equality groups, for instance) that deal very little with trans issues. If you want a voice, get on an organization board and make your case or speak with your wallet. Otherwise, none of your business.

    4. You think DMV workers in WV were paying attention to what someone said to Dan Savage on a panel? Right. Very plausible.

    It’s bizarre that the very people who claim on TR not to care about trans issues spend sooooo much time obsessing over them and writing long diatribes about that which they think has nothing to do with them. Very much like the homophobes who claim not to want to have gay issues forced down their throats–yet, secretly, it seems as if that’s exactly what they crave.

  10. Randy says

    That reminds me, rather than ENDA, we need sexual orientation and gender expression added to the Civil Rights Act, covering employment, credit, housing, and of course government. NO religious exemption. (and it would be a good time to repeal ALL the religious exemptions in that act).

  11. Helene says

    To Donna and Eddie,

    Since Eddie hasn’t responded, please allow me. It is strange addressing you both because both of you are so strange. Donna claims to be a female but very much looks like a male. Eddie claims to be a male, but acts like a female and identifies with dead, female drug addict celebrities. Well, I guess the world has all types.

    1. There is no such thing as LGBT.

    2. There is no evidence of what these 2 trannies look like daily. We have only their statement that they always look like that. Trannies have no moral values and no grasp of the virtue of honesty. They are natural liars. West Virginia is not required to take them at their word.

    3. Thanks Donna for admitting that the rules don’t apply equally to Ts. First Ts muscle their way into the LGB community. Then they impose “LGBT” rules. Then they exempt themselves from those same rules. Because privilege. Anyone can see this for the hostile act that it is. Accordingly, LGBs should see trans activists as their enemy.

    4. It is very sad that you would both disempower Hex and invisibilize its voice. Shame on both of you. Obviously, you both have a reactionary attachment to pronouns which reflect the gender binary.

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