South Korean military urged to change rules for transsexuals

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The military in South Korea has been urged by the National Human Rights Commission to change its physical examination procedures to avoid shaming transsexuals.

The commission was hearing the case of a 29 year old transsexual, identified only as Kim, who reported being humiliated during his examination to establish whether he had to undergo compulsory military service.

Kim had reported his change of sex on a family registry, in accordance with a landmark decision in June of last year by the Supreme Court which concluded family registries could be modified in the case of individuals undergoing female-to-male sex changes.

But that decision also meant those individuals would become eligible for military service.

Kim considered the subsequent examination – in which he was forced to reveal his genitalia – a violation of his rights, “especially because I had submitted sufficient materials for the physical check-up indicating my sex, including a written court decision and diagnosis.”

The commission, South Korea’s top rights body, concluded the current examination rules did not take into account the feelings of transsexuals and new regulations should be formulated to “minimise the sense of shame for transgender or transsexual conscripts.”

The vast majority of young South Korean males are forced to undertake military service for their country, which continues to experience intensely hostile relations with its neighbour North Korea.