Ayden Scheim

Study program:
PhD Epidemiology
Current affiliation:
Western University

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 PhD candidate, 2014 Trudeau Scholar, and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University. His research applies social-epidemiological theory and methods to understanding the health impacts of social exclusion and discrimination. Ayden’s doctoral research builds on almost 15 years of experience as a community-based researcher, activist, service provider, and health promoter in sexual and gender minority communities. In addition to his doctoral project, Ayden is an active investigator on studies exploring social contexts of HIV vulnerability and resilience, access to health care for transgender people, and quantitative methods to bridge social theory and population health research. Alongside researchers from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, he is leading research examining the feasibility of supervised injection services as part of the response to reduce drug-related harms in London, Ontario.

Ayden emphasizes integrated and accessible knowledge translation, working with knowledge users to develop his research projects and to disseminate findings. He has published widely in scientific journals and has authored reports, case studies, and fact sheets for organizations including the International Reference Group on Transgender People and HIV, the Global Forum on MSM and HIV, the University of California San Francisco Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, and Open Society Foundations. His research findings and consultation have informed policies and programs developed by the Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commissions, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, Toronto Public Health, and provincial ministries of health. Ayden co-founded and chaired a working group that produced the first comprehensive sexual health resource for gay and bisexual transgender men, a tool that has been translated into seven languages.