The 9th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance will be marked across the UK on Sunday.

There will be a ceremony at Dragon Hall in London’s Covent Garden at 2pm and in Manchester a vigil will take place in Sackville Park, off Canal Street, at 3.45pm.

The Gender Trust and The Clare Project will hold Brighton’s first Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday 23 November 2008, 16.00hrs at the Dorset Gardens Methodist Church in Brighton.

In the UK, there is estimated to be around 15,000 transsexual people who self-identify as the opposite gender from the physical body they were born with.

Around a third of them have surgery to change their bodies.

The Day of Remembrance, November 20th, was established following a murder of Rita Hester in 1998 and serves as a reminder of existing prejudice, hatred and discrimination against transgender people.

Transsexual people experience varying degrees of acceptance around the world.

Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the issue of transsexualism in Iran had never been officially addressed by the government.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, however, transgendered individuals have been officially recognised by the government and allowed to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

Thailand is thought to have the highest prevalence of transsexualism in the world. Due to the relative prevalence and acceptance of transsexualism in Thailand, there are many accomplished Thai surgeons who are specialised in sex reassignment surgery.

Transgender-related issues remain largely taboo in much of Africa and in developing countries around the world.

Gender non-conformity is still used as an excuse for harassment, violence, and even murder of transgender people– several such cases have been reported through the past year alone across Europe.

“There is still a lot of ignorance about and discrimination against transgender people in Europe and this leads to their marginalisation and invisibility in society,” said ILGA Europe, a leading LGBT rights group.

“Transsexual people often lose their jobs during or soon after they undergo gender reassignment procedures. They experience substantial discrimination in healthcare issues and suffer from poor legislation at national level.

“At the same time there are positive development and growing awareness and embracement of transgender people’s rights at European institutions level.

“The report on homophobia and sexual orientation discrimination in the EU by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency published in June 2008 identified serious gaps in national legislation in regards to transgender people’s rights.”

Thomas Hammarberg, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe is having meetings today  with experts in the field addressing the issues and devise a work programme to tackle discrimination against transgender people.

On Thursday Mr Hammarberg has organised a workshop on homophobia for national human rights institutions.

“ILGA-Europe and its allies have done a lot of work to advance the rights of transgender people in Europe,” said Martin K.I Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board.

“Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done and we are only beginning to properly address the issues and work towards solutions.

“We welcome the fact that more European institutions embrace the issue and take practical steps towards elimination of discrimination and prejudice of transgender people in Europe.”