Asia

Byun Hui-su, South Korea’s first transgender soldier, found dead in Cheongju

Byun Hui-su, the first transgender soldier in South Korea, has died. She was 23.

Byun was registered at the Sangdang-gu National Mental Health Center in Sangdang-gu, Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, South Korea. Since February 28, 2021, she could not be contacted, the counseling center told emergency officials, who found her dead in her home in Cheongju on March 3, 2021.

It appeared that Byun had been dead for a few days, according to authorities. The cause of her death has yet to be confirmed.

 

Born biological male, Byun underwent sex reassignment surgery in Thailand while she was on personal leave in November 2019. In January 2020, she was discharged from the military following the operation.

Prior to the surgery, Byun received psychological treatment and hormone therapy. Her brigade was reportedly aware that she was transgender and supported her decision to undergo surgery.

“It is now time for the South Korean military to set up guidelines and regulations about transgender people,” CNN quoted Center for Military Human Rights Korea (CMHRK) director Kim Hyung-nam as saying in January 2020. “We strongly urge the South Korean military not to discharge this officer so that she can continue to serve as a female officer.”

The Cheongju resident was a staff sergeant stationed in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. After her dismissal, she pursued a lawsuit and hoped to continue to serve in the female corps of the military.

“I will continue to fight until the day I can remain to serve in the army,” Reuters quoted Byun as saying. ” I’ll challenge the decision until the end, to the Supreme Court.”

 

In South Korea, able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 are required to perform active-duty military service for at least 21 months. Those who avoid conscription without valid reason can be put to jail.

Transgender citizens are prohibited from entering the military in South Korea. However, the country does not have regulations about soldiers in active service.

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