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Court upholds trans woman's military service exemption

Sept. 30, 2016 - 16:49 By Korea Herald
The high court on Friday upheld a lower court’s decision that ruled against the Military Manpower Administration for canceling a military service immunity order for a person suffering from gender dysphoria.

The Seoul High Court ruled in favor of a 25-year-old transgendered woman, identified by her surname Lee, seeking for cancelation of the MMA’s enlistment order.

The MMA had claimed Lee’s enlistment was appropriate, as there is no evidence to show that Lee’s gender dysphoria was serious enough simply based on Lee’s “subjective and unilateral” testimonies. Lee had not undergone a sex change procedure.

The MMA said that Lee did not regularly receive hormone or other medicinal procedures and that it was difficult to deem that Lee was suffering from social and occupational difficulties due to her gender dysphoria.

The High Court, however, said that it was still troubling to conclude that Lee did not experience difficulties.

Lee was conscripted in September 2012 after a number of different physical examination results. But she was sent home soon after due to personality disorder, among other reasons.

In a follow-up examination, Lee was again ordered to enlist in June 2014, even though the examination office judged that Lee had gender dysphoria.

Lee filed a suit in January 2015 for a cancelation of the conscription order.

The first ruling had said that Lee received consistent psychological treatment for over four years for gender dysphoria and that it was difficult to deem that Lee had lied about her condition for the sole purpose of evading military service.

Human rights groups have accused the MMA of forcing transgendered women to undergo sex-change procedures without due regulations by refusing to recognize their dysphoria. (