Discussion:
Man With Chopadictomy Expelled From South Korean Army Is Found Dead
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Leroy N. Soetoro
2021-03-04 21:42:18 UTC
Permalink
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/world/asia/south-korea-military-
transgender.html

SEOUL, South Korea — A transgender woman who was expelled by the South
Korean military last year after her gender-reassignment surgery has been
found dead at her home south of Seoul, the police said on Thursday.

The authorities said they were investigating the cause of death of the
woman, Byeon Hee-su, 23, whose body was found on Wednesday at her home in
the city of Cheongju by emergency responders. They were alerted after a
local mental health center that had been counseling her reported that it
could not contact her.

Ms. Byeon, who had been a staff sergeant in an army tank unit, was
discharged from the military in January 2020 following her surgery. She
had wanted to continue her service in the army, but a military panel
declared her unfit to serve. She became the first active-duty soldier in
South Korea to be referred to such a panel because she had had a sex-
change operation.

Since her dismissal, Ms. Byeon had campaigned vigorously to be reinstated,
arguing that there was no reason she could not fulfill her duties.

“I want to show that I can be an excellent soldier who helps defend this
country regardless of my sexual identity,” Ms. Byeon said tearfully at a
news conference following her discharge. “Please give me that chance.”

Ms. Byeon’s case laid bare the plight that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals
and transgender people often face in South Korea’s socially conservative
society, especially in its armed forces. Gay and other soldiers have long
complained of discrimination and abuse. Gay men and lesbians are not
barred from service, but they have been subjected to investigations by
military officials. Transgender people, however, are barred from joining
the armed forces, since they are categorized by the military as having
mental and physical “disorders.”

In a ruling last year, a district court formally recognized Ms. Byeon as
female. After her initial petition to be reinstated was rejected by the
military, Ms. Byeon sued the military, arguing that her discharge had been
unlawful. The first hearing in the case had been scheduled to take place
in a military court next month.

The military expressed its condolences over her death but declined to make
any further comments.

Ms. Byeon’s death brought an outpouring on social media from transgender
people, who thanked her for speaking out for transgender rights in the
face of the social stigma.

“I am truly sorry that we have failed to protect the life you have so
desperately wanted,” Jang Hye-young, a lawmaker affiliated with the
minority Justice Party, said in a post on Twitter.

Efforts to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law to promote the
rights of women and sexual and other minorities have been stymied for
years in Parliament as powerful conservative Christian churches have
lobbied against it, calling the conduct of L.G.B.T. people sinful.

Ms. Byeon? joined the military in 2017. She underwent her operation in
Thailand while on leave. She ran into trouble afterward, when a South
Korean military-run hospital, where she had checked in for post-surgery
treatment, said that she was disabled and could be discharged from the
army because of the loss of male genitalia from the surgery.

South Korea, which is technically at war with North Korea across one of
the world’s most heavily fortified borders, requires all able-bodied men
to serve in its armed forces for about 20 months. Women are exempt from
conscription but may choose to enlist.

Before her death, Ms. Byeon found significant international backing for
her cause.

United Nations human rights officials said in a letter to the South Korean
government last July that her dismissal “would violate the right to work
and the prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity under
international human rights law?.”

?The South Korean government defended the military’s decision, saying that
in order to allow transgender people to serve in the military, the country
would have to consider how it would affect troops’ combat readiness
against North Korea. It also said the nation had to weigh the “effects on
personnel morale?”

In December, ?South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission? called the
army’s decision unfair and recommended that it reinstate Ms. Byeon.

Lim Tae-hoon, director of the Military Human Rights Center of Korea, which
provided assistance for Ms. Byeon, said after her death, “We pray that
Staff Sergeant Byeon Hee-su, a tank driver, will live with like-minded
people in the next world where there is no discrimination and hatred.”

Good riddance.
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Bonefish
2021-03-05 04:03:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Leroy N. Soetoro
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/world/asia/south-korea-military-
transgender.html
SEOUL, South Korea — A transgender woman who was expelled by the South
Korean military last year after her gender-reassignment surgery has been
found dead at her home south of Seoul, the police said on Thursday.
The authorities said they were investigating the cause of death of the
woman, Byeon Hee-su, 23, whose body was found on Wednesday at HIS home in
the city of Cheongju by emergency responders. They were alerted after a
local mental health center that had been counseling her reported that it
could not contact her.
Good.

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