The South Korean military, which recently lost a case taken against them by a dismissed soldier who died earlier this year, has stated that they will be appealing the decision.
The case was taken against the military by Byun Hee-soo, a Trans woman and South Korean soldier, who was dismissed from serving because her gender affirmation surgery was deemed a disability.
It was decided in Daejeon District Court that Byun was, indeed, unfairly dismissed but the verdict, sadly, came in after the young soldier took her own life in March– a year after being forcibly removed from the military.
Byun is the first known Transgender soldier in the South Korean military, where Trans people are not accepted to serve, but there is no specific policy in place regarding soldiers who transition during their service.
The former tank gunner and staff sergeant in Gyeonggi province volunteered to serve in the military in 2017, two years before her gender affirmation surgery. Following her removal from the force, she argued that her dismissal was unconstitutional.
The court agreed that the army’s decision was “undoubtedly illegal and should be cancelled” and that she “should have been considered as female when the military checked whether she was fit to serve”.
Following the verdict and their loss in court, the South Korean military made a statement saying that they respected the court’s decision. Now, however, a defence ministry official has said that the military believes there is a need for a higher court to review the case.
“The defence ministry will thoroughly examine whether Transgender people can serve in the military through policy research in consideration of the unique nature of the military and public opinion,” the official said.
Demands are being made by South Korean human rights groups that the military abandon their plans to appeal the verdict, and instead offer an apology.
“The government may appeal, but our position is that they must not do so because that’s the attitude the government must have in the democratic society,” said Cho Kyu-suk, an activist with the Center for Military Human Rights Korea.
Cho also said that the appeal may have been a delay tactic against any possible backlash from conservatives who want more policies in place on Trans soldiers.
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