Byun Hee-soo, The South Korean Soldier Discharged After Gender Reassignment Surgery, Has Been Found Dead

Byun was the first soldier known to have undergone sex reassignment surgery while serving in the military. The cause of her death is under investigation. 

Byun Hee-soo, the South Korean soldier who was discharged from the military last year after undergoing sex reassignment surgery, has been found dead in her home. The cause of her death is unknown.

Yonhap News Agency reports that Byun’s mental health counselor, who hadn’t heard from Byun since February 28, notified emergency services. Emergency workers dispatched to her home found her dead. Although no note was found at the scene, a representative from the clinic where Byun sought treatment said that she’d attempted to kill herself three months ago. 

Byun garnered international attention last year when she challenged her discharge and petitioned the Army to reinstate her into military service, which is compulsory for men in South Korea. Her petition was rejected in July. In December, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea stated that the decision to discharge Byun lacked legal grounds.

“I will continue to fight until the day I can remain to serve in the army,” Byun said shortly after her dismissal. “I’ll challenge the decision until the end, to the Supreme Court.” 

Byun was the first soldier known to have undergone sex reassignment surgery while serving in the military. The cause of her death is under investigation. 


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