Discharged transgender soldier struggles to make a return

Byun Hee-soo, South Korea’s first transgender soldier, who was discharged from the military last year after undergoing gender reassignment surgery, is battling her way back into the Army. In January 2020, the Army fired the former staff sergeant, a tank gunner who served at an armored unit in Gyeonggi Province, saying the surgery rendered her mentally and physically unfit to be on active duty. Byun wanted to remain in the military as a female. In August, Byun petitioned the court to reverse the decision, after she was denied a chance to make her case before the Army’s appeals commission. But the court has yet to set a trial date and the Army has not submitted its pleadings. “Two weeks ago, I asked the court again for a date, and that’s all I’ve been doing for the past months. But no answer. I really don’t know what’s taking so long,” Kim Borami, an attorney representing Byun, told The Korea Herald. “It’s been a painful time for Byun and me,” the attorney said, admitting the thought of seeking damages in a separate complaint has crossed her mind as her client, the 23-year-old former sergeant, is left waiting endlessly to realize her childhood dream of being a career soldier.