Seoul – South Korea’s first known transgender soldier pleaded to be allowed to continue serving after the military decided on Wednesday to discharge her for undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
It was the first time in South Korea that an active-duty member has been referred to a military panel to determine whether to end his or her service due to a sex reassignment operation. South Korea prohibits transgender people from joining the military but has no specific laws on what to do with those who have sex reassignment operations during their time in service.
The army said in a statement that it concluded the soldier’s operation can be considered a reason for discharge.
It said the decision went through due process and was based on a related military law on personnel changes. Army officials cited a provision of the law allowing the military to discharge personnel with physical or mental disabilities if those problems weren’t a result of combat or in the line of duty.
After the ruling, the staff sergeant, who identified herself as a tank driver named Byun Hui-su, held a news conference at which she asked military leaders to reconsider their decision and let her serve as a female soldier.