Posthumous victory for S.Korean transgender soldier

A South Korean soldier that committed suicide earlier this year after being dismissed following gender reassignment surgery won a posthumous victory on Thursday.

A court ordered the army to recognise her as a woman, and annul her dismissal.

Staff Sergeant Byun Hui-su had wanted a transfer to the military’s female corps after the surgery, but not only did that not happen, the army dismissed her in January 2020 on ground that gender reassignment rendered her "disabled" and unfit for service.

Byun filed her case in court, seeking reinstatement, but took her life before it was resolved.

The court said that as Byun's changed gender was already legally recognised, the army should have used standards applied to women to determine her fitness to serve.

Outside the court there were cheers from supporters and activists who said justice was long overdue.

The question is whether this will be a turning point for the military's policy on sexual minorities.

The army said in a statement that it respected the court's decision, but has yet to decide whether to appeal. And they said they would conduct a comprehensive review before deciding a course of action.

South Korea requires all able-bodied men to undergo at least 21 months of military service.

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