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(LEAD) Active-duty soldier undergoes sex reassignment surgery, voices hope for continuing service

All Headlines 14:54 January 16, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details on civic group's press briefing in last four paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- An Army non-commissioned officer underwent gender reassignment surgery last year and has expressed a desire to continue to serve in the military as a female solider, officers said Thursday.

The serviceperson, whose identity was withheld, visited a foreign country while on furlough last year for the surgery. After an examination, a military medical team declared her "a handicapped person," which requires the authorities' evaluation to decide whether to discharge her or not.

The officer reportedly has expressed her will to continue to serve as a female soldier.

"Under current law, no specific rules exist on whether to allow those who change their gender while being in service to continue their service," an Army officer said. "A related process for evaluation is now under way."

(LEAD) Active-duty soldier undergoes sex reassignment surgery, voices hope for continuing service - 1

The Center for Military Human Rights Korea, which advocates for soldiers' rights, called on the military to accept her request.

"The staff sergeant is a young soldier who is very loyal to the country and to the people and who loves the military more than anyone," a center official said in a press briefing.

"The soldier and her unit are both strongly hoping for her to continue to serve, which is why we are waiting for a forward-thinking decision."

The serviceperson underwent surgery in Thailand upon approval from her unit, the center official said, adding that the removal of both testicles do not provide medical ground to judge her as being inadequate to serve in the military.

graceoh@yna.co.kr

mlee@yna.co.kr
(END)

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