South Korea’s first transgender soldier Byun Hui-Su was found dead on Wednesday, March 3rd in South Korea. The 23-year-old’s cause of death has not been revealed, reports the BBC. Her mental health counselor became worried after not hearing from her since Sunday. The counselor called authorities and they found her dead in her home in Gyeonggi. There was no suicide note left at her home. But she did try to commit suicide three months ago, reports Yonhap News.
Byun Hui-Su became famous in South Korea after she was discharged from the South Korean army for being transgender. She underwent gender reassignment surgery overseas in 2019 in Thailand to become a woman. When she returned, authorities discharged her in January 2020 from the army where she was a staff sergeant under the guise of a “mental disorder.”
Byun said she got the surgery while in service because she was suffering from years of depression over her gender identity. Her superiors on the ground knew of her situation and were supportive.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to let my base know of my identity, but once I did, I felt much better,” Byun said. “I thought I would finish serving in the army and then go through the transition surgery and then re-enter the army as a female soldier. But my depression got too severe.”
She wanted to stay in the military to serve her country and fought back with lawsuits. But the army rejected her reinstatement.
“Regardless of my sexual identity, I’d like to show everyone that I can become one of the great soldiers who protect this country,” she said. “Please give me that chance.”
Byun and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea filed another lawsuit in December alleging the army had no legal ground to keep Byun out. They alleged that Byun was kicked out of the army due to transgender discrimination.