Driver’s License Division incident causes brouhaha, TEA directors resign

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A transgender woman said she was stared and laughed at by employees of the Utah Driver’s License Division and she was asked to remove her makeup while trying to renew her driver’s license last month. After reviewing surveillance tapes, the directors of Transgender Education Advocates of Utah issued a press release saying the DLD generally followed procedure. Some members of the gay and transgender community took objection to their statements and started a Facebook group calling for their resignation. The directors, Christopher and Teinamarrie Scuderi, resigned and apologized for comments they made that may have been viewed as non-supportive in a press release.

The transgender woman involved in the incident, Regina Audette, said she was asked to remove her makeup by a DLD supervisor before taking the photo for her license.

“They told me that no person shall interfere with hiding their identity,” Audette said.

Audette told QSaltLake that she was not trying to change her gender marker that indicates she is male. She said she wanted only to renew her license and she knew that she was not following the procedures to change the marker. She said she knew before going to the DLD she was not allowed to hide her identity with makeup for a government-issued identification.

Audette said a woman began arguing with the supervisor after overhearing the DLD officials request that she remove her makeup. After the argument became heated, the supervisor said that Audette was a man, not a woman and that she must remove her makeup to have a photo identification match her gender on her driver’s license, Audette said.

A story about the event first appeared in the blog, PrideInUtah.com. However, this story was published before TEA of Utah representatives had a chance to view the surveillance tapes of the event or speak with other DLD and state officials, Christopher said.

After appearing in the blog, local media picked up the story, as did some national media outlets. The Utah Pride Center issued a press release calling for more education of government employees concerning transgender rights.

The directors of TEA contacted the DLD and asked to review surveillance tapes as soon as they heard about the event, Scuderi said. After viewing the tapes and speaking with officials, they told the press that the DLD followed procedures from what they could see on the tapes, but there was no audio.

The supervisor of the DLD was cited, reprimanded and is required to undergo training for a comment he made, Christopher said. The supervisor also apologized and said that he should not have said what he did when he referred to Audette as a man, and not a woman, Scuderi said. Audette said she had a personal meeting with the state officials where she was allowed to see the video footage. She said that the state officials apologized and said no matter what happened they were sorry she felt she was not treated fairly.

Still, some members of the gay and transgender community took objection to the statements made by the directors of TEA of Utah supporting the DLD, and a Facebook group calling for their resignations gained more than 100 members.

The directors of TEA stepped down and apologized for any harm they might have done with their statements last week.

“It is never our intention to re-victimize a member of the transgender community and we recognize how our statements may have been viewed as non-supportive. For that, we are deeply sorry,” the press release read.

Christopher and Teinamarrie started TEA of Utah in 2003 and have served as the directors and helped the group grow. Under their guidance, TEA of Utah served as an education and advocacy group for Fortune 500 companies, individual families and even governmental agencies such as the Unified Police Department.

Connie Anast, Board treasurer, has been named Interim Director of TEA of Utah.

Steps to change a gender marker

How to obtain an amended birth certificate

To obtain an amended birth certificate, submit to the Utah Department of Health a letter from a licensed doctor who has treated the patient for gender-related care or has reviewed the gender-related medical history.

How to obtain a Passport with a gender change

To obtain an amended passport a letter from a licensed physician who is familiar with the applicant’s transition-related treatment must be submitted. The letter must include whether or not treatment has begun. This letter can be substituted with an amended birth certificate.

If treatment has not begun, a two-year passport will be  issued until the applicant’s treatment has been started. The type of treatment, whether it’s hormone therapy or surgery, does not need to be shared. The doctor must only include whether or not treatment has begun.

How to change a gender marker on a driver’s license

An original or certified copy of an identity document or an amended certified copy of an identity document that specifies gender must be taken when renewing a driver’s license. This can be a birth certificate or passport.

If applicants have problems changing gender markers or for more information about how to follow the correct procedures, go to TEAofUtah.org. There are ways to contact the director who can file formal complaints if there are any issues with a DLD or any other governmental office.

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