Legal driving concerns for cross-dressing man

WSVN — Now here is a legal question you may have never heard: If a man likes to dress as a woman, can he be arrested while driving for impersonating a woman? It’s one man’s concern, and Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser has the cross-dressing answer.

Some interviews begin a little differently than others.

Terry Richards: "When I first tried on a slip, I was 13. And next time, there was a bra hanging up, ‘Oh, let me try that on.’"

Meet Terry Richards. In many ways, a normal 6-foot guy.

Terry Richards: "I’m not gay. I’m a heterosexual male who enjoys wearing women’s clothes." 

Terry has always enjoyed dressing as a woman. He is proud to show the pictures to prove it.

Terry Richards: "There were times you put the stuff away and forget it; years go by." 

And for most of his life, as he married and raised his kids, he kept his love of wearing women’s clothes a secret from most people.

Terry Richards: "I used to buy stuff, put it on a suitcase, go somewhere, try it on, and then on the way home, throw the suitcase away with the stuff and buy it again."

Then, after Terry’s children were grown and his second wife passed away, the 76-year-old Terry said enough. "It’s time to wear what I want to wear all the time."

Terry Richards: "I retired, I guess you call it. I retired as a guy and became a girl, but decided to enjoy my life the way I wanted to enjoy it."

Now Terry always dresses as a woman, complete with a wig and makeup. But he has a concern.

Terry Richards: "If you are driving as a male but dressed as a girl, and somehow get a speeding ticket and you present your license as a guy’s license, what will be the reaction of the police?"

In other words, can Terry, who now goes everywhere in women’s clothes, legally get in trouble with police for being dressed like a woman, while having a driver’s license showing him as a man?

Terry Richards: "You may get some, ‘OK you are impersonating someone? You are not allowed to impersonate.’ Who am I not allowed to impersonate?" 

Well, it’s an unusual question from Terry, but a good one. Do you have to match the picture on your driver’s license?

Howard Finkelstein: "No. There is no law that requires you to match the picture on your driver’s license. In fact, if Terry wants, he can go to a driver’s license office and take a picture dressed as a woman. That’s perfectly legal as well."

We talked to a couple of police departments to see if they had any policies regarding this. They didn’t. One officer told us it’s no different from a guy growing a beard to change his appearance. 

At the Division of Motor Vehicles, a spokesperson wrote, "An individual may get their picture taken on a Florida driver’s license dressed in whatever is their usual appearance."

Terry Richards: "I’m very happy. Can’t you tell?"

Terry can now relax as he goes out — be himself, dressed in women’s clothes. Although as he will tell you, people shouldn’t think it’s a big deal for a guy to want to dress like a woman, anyway.

Terry Richards: "We are all born naked and die naked, so in between, it is just a costume. Where you wear pants, I wear skirt. I wear pants, you wear a skirt. It’s just clothing."

Howard says it’s perfectly legal for a guy to go out dressed as a woman, but it wasn’t always that way. In 1956, the City of Miami made it a crime for a man to dress as a woman, and a crime for a woman to dress as a man. The law didn’t last. The courts ruled it was illegal to do that to people.

Trying to skirt around a problem you have? Don’t wig out. Contact us. We won’t make up a solution. We will roll up our sleeves and dress up things for you.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News. 

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
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On Twitter: @helpmehoward7