Ayden Scheim

Study program:
Social Epidemiology
Current affiliation:
University of California, San Diego

Ayden is researching how marginalization impacts transgender people’s health in order to find strategies for intervention at the social and policy levels.

Doctoral research

Impacts of Social Exclusion on the Health of Transgender Ontarians: Identifying Strategies To Increase Health Equity

Mr. Scheim has been a leader in the transgender health field for almost 15 years, which ultimately led him to pursue doctoral research in social epidemiology. His dissertation examines the health impacts of social exclusion and discrimination in the transgender population, and strategies for better measuring these complex phenomena. At the same time, he is an active co-investigator on mixed-methods projects related to supervised injection and other health care services for marginalized people who use drugs; measurement of sex and gender in population health surveys; and transgender sexual health.

It is well-documented that stigma and discrimination have detrimental effects on the health of marginalized populations. However, measuring discrimination is far from simple. It is a multidimensional concept that can include anticipation of unfair treatment, experiences of subtle interpersonal slights, and acts of discrimination that are legally actionable under human rights legislation. Moreover, intersectionality theory suggests that individuals who occupy multiple marginalized social identities or positions may be unable to disentangle the bases on which they experience discrimination, as surveys often require them to. Therefore, the first aim of Ayden’s doctoral research project is to develop and validate a multidimensional and intersectional measure of discrimination for use in population health surveys. The second aim of Ayden’s project focuses on the specific manifestations and impacts of discrimination within Ontario’s transgender population. Despite increasing acceptance and human rights protections, transgender Canadians continue to experience profound social exclusion and discrimination. Related to this, they are vulnerable to poorer health outcomes than their non-transgender counterparts, such as HIV and problematic substance use. Drawing on rich survey data from the Trans PULSE Project, Ayden aims to identify modifiable processes of social exclusion that may contribute to these outcomes, in order to inform strategies for social- and policy-level intervention.

Ayden Scheim is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. He was a 2014 Trudeau Scholar and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University, where he received his PhD in 2017. A social epidemiologist by training, Ayden researches the impacts of social and policy environments on health disparities faced by stigmatized populations. His doctoral research examined the impacts of social exclusion and discrimination on transgender health disparities. His current research is focused on the social determinants of injection drug use initiation and evaluating the health impacts of illicit drug policies.