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Grant for ‘Navigating uncertainty in gender incongruence and differences in sex development’

Date of news: 10 June 2021

The Dutch organisation for health research and care innovation ZonMw has awarded grants to sixteen research teams in the ZonMw Open Competition programme. One of the projects is Navigating uncertainty in gender incongruence and differences in sex development (DSD), of which associate professor of Dutch Language and Communication Wyke Stommel is a co-applicant.

Transgender and intersex children, their parents, and healthcare providers face substantial uncertainty. This covers medical, psychological, ethical and communicative aspects regarding treatment decisions and longterm development of the conditions. Wyke Stommel: They face uncertainty about what the child will want when it grows up, the (possible) effects of an intervention (operation or hormone treatment, fertility, etc.), about social consequences (we do not want our child to become a ghost), but also about societal norms regarding gender that are changing. This is not only a concern for the parents of the children, but also for the care providers themselves.' This project aims to understand uncertainty and support children, parents and healthcare professionals in recognizing, discussing and coping with uncertainty.

Project team

In addition to Wyke Stommel (Centre for Language Studies), the project team consists of Chris Verhaak and Anke Oerlemans from Radboudumc, Marij Hillen from Amsterdam UMC-AMC and Annelou de Vries from Amsterdam UMC-VUmc. Stommel: 'Our project is the only one of the sixteen awarded projects that has a humanities and social sciences perspective instead of a primarily medical one. That is pretty special.’ The project is expected to start at the end of the year.


With a view to team science, the programme ZonMw Open Competition is specifically aimed at innovative and groundbreaking combinations of two or more research groups. The projects and the teams are assessed against criteria such as creativity, groundbreaking research of high quality, and the utilisation of knowledge via transmission and implementation through, among other approaches, the participation of stakeholders in the broadest sense of the word. Each team has received a maximum of 750,000 euros from the programme ZonMw Open Competition. The other research groups will investigate, for example, the genetic factors of heart muscle diseases, better treatment of damage to the retina and the development of antibiotics against tuberculosis.