Role model Tim de Jong

“What matters is respect and appreciation for differences, and sometimes that requires an extra effort.”
5 minuten leestijd


“Years ago I was a patient in this hospital and now here I dedicate myself to a target group that often faces life-long challenges.” Tim de Jong is the founder of the Gender Support Center, part of the Knowledge and Care Center for Gender Dysphoria (Genderpoli). “Because I have a transgender background, people who approach me feel more at ease, I notice. There is less fear of misunderstanding, so they dare to talk more easily. If you belong to a minority, it can be nice to connect with someone in whom you recognize yourself. I also see with my children how important that is. My wife and I have been taking in foster children for twenty years, often from non-Dutch backgrounds. Even in the mixed population of Amsterdam you see that they are regularly confronted with the fact that they are 'different'. They often seek to connect with young people from similar backgrounds.” “I myself recognize the struggle of growing up in a society that was not very open to gender diversity. That experience and my family of color have taught me a lot about social inequality. Like many people from bicultural backgrounds, I have developed the habit of scanning the attendees for color and ethnicity when I enter a place. If there is only one person of color, for example, I am aware of that. That we live in a segregated society I see at the schools in Amsterdam, but also here at the hospital. When after five o'clock my predominantly white colleagues have gone home, the cleaners, predominantly of color, go to work. As an organization, we still have a way to go to achieve more diversity in the workplace. Personally, I experience it as an enrichment, partly thanks to my children and their social environment, to learn more about different cultures.”


“How do I find out if I am transgender?”, “What is good health insurance?”, “How do I protect my child from negative reactions?”, “How can I guide a student through a coming-out? Since 2021, anyone with questions about gender can contact the Gender Questions Support Center. “Not only gender diverse individuals themselves are welcome, parents, partners, teachers and social workers can also come to us. There is more and more openness socially, you see for example more often trans people on TV and YouTube. This makes it easier to come out.” Still, there is a lot of misunderstanding and discrimination. It can also be difficult to find your way in gender care, Tim knows. “We get a lot of questions about gender-affirming treatments. Not everyone is equally adept at finding information. Medical descriptions are sometimes difficult to understand. In such a case, we can help someone by going through the information together.”
The people who approach the support center not only need practical information, but sometimes also a listening ear. “The long waiting lists for gender affirming treatment lead to many phone calls and e-mails. When it's your turn for a medical course, it can be tough and drastic. At the support center, we can help people a little bit along the way, for example by telling them about contact groups where they can meet other transgender people.” Tim also speaks to parents who have only recently learned that their child is transgender or non-binary (neither a girl nor a boy). “They want to take those feelings seriously, but also protect their child from the outside world. They often have questions about how best to support their child, as well as about the future and treatment options.”
Questions and concerns that often recur are fed back - anonymously - to the care team. “This helps ensure that clients' perspectives and experiences are heard and included in improvements to gender care. For example, we drew attention to communication with patients, the readability of online informational materials and the gender designation in Epic desired by patients.”

Amsterdam UMC goes for diverse and inclusive. Where do opportunities lie?

“It seems like a simple question: are you male or female? But that does a disservice to reality, because not everyone recognizes themselves in these two options. For several years now you can be listed in the Basic Registration of Persons with the neutral gender designation 'X,' and language is also changing rapidly. In addition to “she” and “he,” since 2016, “them” and “those” have also been recognized as pronouns in our language, for people who do not identify as male or female. But the use of neutral pronouns still often evokes discomfort or resistance. It can be uncomfortable to use “them” or “those,” and a mistake is easily made, but you can correct it. It is a form of respect to at least make an effort to use the desired pronoun. Dutch Railways currently address their passengers as “dear travelers” instead of “dear ladies and gentlemen. So there are countless opportunities for inclusive communication, it doesn't have to be complicated.”

What do you think makes an organization diverse and inclusive?

“Actually, every organization is already diverse. No two people are the same. What matters is respect and appreciation for those differences, and that sometimes requires an extra effort. We have all kinds of unconscious prejudices about people who are different from ourselves. Within seconds we form an opinion about someone, whether it is gender, color, class, age, sexual orientation or having a disability . Those biases affect how we view and approach others, including in the workplace. There are tools to reduce the influence of prejudice in selection procedures or dealing with colleagues. The issue is whether you can approach a woman with a headscarf, a transgender person or someone who is low-literate with an open mind, without making assumptions about this person. Anyone who wants to contribute to more inclusion in the workplace can start today: at a staff meeting, sit down not next to that familiar colleague, but next to someone who seems different from you, and engage in an open conversation.”

Outside of work hours?

“I am afflicted with a great curiosity about people and like to put up a tree about the riddles of existence. Since the covid period, I've taken to walking a lot, and that's when I sometimes get talking to strangers. I always come back to what connects us as people: we are all floating around in the same boat and trying to make the best of it. I need connection and humor as a counterbalance to the human suffering that also characterizes our existence. If we keep a positive outlook we can build a better future for our children.”

Do you have any questions for Tim or would you like to know more about diversity & inclusion within Amsterdam UMC? Then email to

Text: Sophie Verschoor