South Korea’s First Trans Soldier Found Dead in Her Home at 23

South Korea’s First Trans Soldier Found Dead in Her Home at 23
Bryan Ke
By Bryan Ke
March 4, 2021
Byun Hee-soo, South Korea’s first transgender soldier who was forcibly discharged from service over a year ago, has been found dead.
Sudden death: The 23-year-old former South Korean soldier was found dead in her home on Wednesday at 5:49 p.m., according to Yonhap News.
  • After unsuccessful attempts to contact Byun since Feb. 28, her mental health counselor alerted the authorities.
  • Byun had been attending mental health counseling near her home in the neighborhood of Cheongju, the BBC reported.
  • According to her local mental health center, Byun had tried to commit suicide three months ago.
  • Authorities found no suicide note in her home. Investigators have yet to release details of her death.
Forcibly discharged: Byun was forcibly discharged from service in January 2020 after undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
  • Prior to her case, the South Korean Army had never used a panel to decide on ending a soldier’s service after undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
  • While there are no specific laws placed for her case, the Army ultimately decided that the surgery should be considered as a Level 3 physical disability.
  • Byun asked for reinstatement after her dismissal, but the Army denied her plea in July 2020.
  • She then challenged the military after filing an administrative suit in August 2020, arguing that her removal was unconstitutional.
  • The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) addressed the situation last December and said there were no legal grounds when the Army prohibited her from serving in the military.
  • Kim Borami, Byun’s attorney, told The Korea Herald that Byun’s legal team asked the court for a chance to appeal in February 2021, but they have yet to receive an answer.
  • “Two weeks ago, I asked the court again for a date, and that’s all I’ve been doing for the past months, but no answer,” Kim said. “I really don’t know what’s taking so long. It’s been a painful time for Byun and me.”
Feature Image via Arirang News
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