TDoR 2021 / 2021 / March / 03 / Byun Hee-soo

Byun Hee-soo

Age 23

3 Mar 2021
Cheongju, North Chungcheong (South Korea)

Byun Hee-soo
Byun Hee-soo [photo:]

Byun Hee-soo was found dead at home. A year earlier she had been expelled from the South Korean army after undergoing gender confirmation surgery.

South Korea‘s first transgender soldier Byun Hee-soo has been found dead at her home, and the cause of death is not yet known.

According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, a mental health counsellor in Byun Hee-soo’s neighbourhood in Cheongju, south of Seoul, called emergency services to report that Byun had not been reachable since Sunday (28 February), and firefighters found her dead at her house at 5.49pm on Wednesday (3 March), according to police officers.

The local mental health care clinic said Byun Hee-soo attempted suicide three months ago, according to Yonhap. No suicide note was found, and police are investigating the death.

Byun, who was a tank gunner in Gyeonggi province, north of Seoul, was discharged from the army after undergoing gender affirmation surgery in January last year. She launched a landmark legal challenge against the South Korean army over her dismissal, but this was rejected in July.

Byun Hee-soo’s case triggered a debate about the treatment of the LGBT+ community, trans troops and LGBT+ soldiers in the conservative country. The Centre for Military Human Rights Korea (CMHRK) had urged the South Korean military not to discharge Byun because she could “continue to serve as a female officer”.

The CMHRK said: “It is now time for the South Korean military to set up guidelines and regulations about transgender people.”

Report added: 7 Mar 2021. Last updated: 17 Apr 2021

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