A South Korean transgender soldier has expressed hope to continue to remain with the military and serve on the front lines after the Army decided to forcibly discharge her.
Staff Sergeant Byun Hee-soo stressed during a press conference on Wednesday that being a soldier has been her dream since she was a child.
The officer, who has been serving as a tank controller with a unit in northern Gyeonggi Province, went overseas last year for gender reassignment surgery. After the operation, Byun expressed her wish to continue to serve as a female soldier.
Following a review committee meeting earlier in the day, the Army said it was decided that the officer cannot continue military service in accordance with the Military Personnel Management Act and other related laws.
During the press conference arranged by local civic group Center for Military Human Rights Korea, Byun said even though she managed to overcome some challenges living with male soldiers, thanks to her patriotism, gender dysphoria deepened her depression and she finally decided to change her gender.
She acknowledged that the South Korean military is not ready to accept a transgender soldier, however, she said it is making progress toward becoming a more human rights-respecting organization.
Byun said if she is allowed to remain in the barracks, the military will be able to utilize her unique experiences as a transgender soldier and help create synergy.
She also expressed hope that all LGBTQ soldiers will not be discriminated, but be allowed to fulfill their duties and callings, adding she wants to set a precedent and contribute to change.