The South Korean soldier, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in Thailand last year while on leave, spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time about the military's decision to discharge her.
Staff Sergeant Byun Hee-soo, who was trained as a tank pilot after joining the military in 2017 said she thought being part of the military, considered one of the most conservative groups in South Korea, would help her deal with and overcome her gender dysphoria a condition she says she's been struggling with since she was young.
"Since I was young, my dream was to become a soldier to protect this country and its people. And although the training was tough, I was elated that my dream came true."
Her dreams were short-lived, however.
The Army said in a statement that it discharged her for what it called "medical reasons" without specifying the details.
It referred to "injuries" that made her unfit to carry out her duties.
This follows last week's findings by a military medical team, which declared her "handicapped."
The Army's statement also said that a military committee reviewed Byun's case, considering military law and the arguments against her dismissal, and that it will continue trying to protect the human rights of service personnel and to prevent any undue discrimination.
The Center for Military Human Rights Korea, an advocacy group, said the decision to discharge her is unjust, and it plans to support Byun's legal efforts to reinstate her based on her desire to continue her service as a woman.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.