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Court orders cancellation of forceful discharge of deceased transgender soldier

All News 10:36 October 07, 2021

DAEJEON, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- A court ruled Thursday that it was unfair for the Army to forcefully discharge a transgender soldier for having undergone sex-change surgery, after the decision led her to take her own life earlier this year.

The Daejeon District Court ruled in favor of late Ssg. Byun Hee-soo, saying the military should have considered the solider as a woman when reviewing whether she was fit for military duty after the sex-change operation.

"Since she applied for a sex change at a court and reported it to the military, she should have been considered as female when the military hospital checked whether she was fit to serve," the court said in a ruling.

The former staff sergeant was discharged from the Army in January last year, as her loss of genitalia was classified as a physical disability under military law. She underwent sex reassignment surgery while on leave in 2019, about two years after she voluntarily enlisted in the military.

The following month, she appealed the decision and asked the military to allow her to keep serving as a female soldier, but the appeal was rejected.

In August last year, she filed an administrative suit against the decision with the court, claiming that her dismissal was unconstitutional.

She was found dead at her home in Cheongju, 150 kilometers south of Seoul, in March.

Under South Korea's conscription system, all able-bodied men must carry out compulsory service for about two years in a country that faces North Korea across a heavily fortified border.

Former Ssg. Byun Hee-soo salutes during a press conference at the Military Human Rights Center in Seoul on Jan. 22, 2020, following the Army's decision to discharge her. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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