Featured On Vice Motherboard Read the Article
Open Source Gendercodes (OSG) is a project focused on developing an open source platform for the production of sex hormones. The development of a transgenic plant that could allow “laypeople” to grow sex hormones would not only call into question the cultural and institutional frameworks that govern queer and trans bodies, it would also challenge the current system of pharmaceutical production. Can we imagine a communal system of pharmaceutical production in which biological materials are collectively owned?
What are you doing with the hormones… is this Illegal?
I have consulted with FBI agents who work specifically with biohacking labs, and what I’m doing is legal. Once I get to the point of extracting hormones from plants for human use, there are legal and regulatory constraints that I will need to work within. My goal is to make sex hormones more accessible to queers, trans people, gender-hackers, and anyone who could benefit from more affordable access. This work is a protest against the pathologization of gender variation and a proposal for an alternative to the privatized pharmaceutical industry. Check out the FAQ section for more detailed answers!
For more information on the ways gender variation is pathologized and the negative impacts of this practice Stop Trans Pathologization
For more details on my research, and how I plan to make a hormone producing plant, watch this video
For images and information on the rewards that I’m offering for contributions, watch this video
Click here if you don’t care about the rewards and want to donate an amount you specify.
One Year at Pelling Lab
I recently connected with Andrew Pelling of Pelling Lab in Ottawa, Canada. He has generously offered to support OSG with lab access, any required training and a network of specialists. Unfortunately his lab is unable to offer a living stipend to an artist. During my year at Pelling Lab, I’ll gain invaluable experience / training, and begin developing a prototype. The project will not be over after one year. I’ve been documenting my lab work with photos and videos, a practice I’ll continue in Ottawa. I’ll use my training as a web-designer to create an interactive interface with scientific protocols, a video history of gender / biotech, and speculate on potential futures for this technology. I’ll offer workshops at BUGSS for queer and trans people to learn techniques developed at Pelling Lab and contribute to OSG.
I’ve learned from other researchers who’ve successfully developed transgenic tobacco production systems that this project will take many years. Recreating an entire metabolic pathway in a plant is an incredibly complex task. This is a starting point that will help the project grow, and give me new skills to bring back to community labs.
For the past year I’ve been working in a community biohacking lab in Baltimore, MD (called BUGSS) to learn the techniques of Synthetic Biology, explore new aesthetics, and develop a plan for OSG. I’ve connected with experts around the world, including Stan Gelvin of Purdue University, Sebastian Cocioba of SVA’s bio art lab, and Oded Shoseyov of The Hebrew University of Jeruselum, all of whom have helped guide the work. Through my interactions with scientists I’ve discovered how important the perspective of the the layperson is in the laboratory. Especially, in labs dealing with Synthetic Biology and genetics, which have incredible capacities for harming as well as healing. These sciences have strong historical roots in eugenics and oppressive power. As an artist, I am a mediator between communities that are too often mutually exclusive. By giving talks in scientific contexts on the history of gender and LGBTQ liberation, I bring the queer community into the lab. By gaining access to, and appropriating tools of science for queer agendas, I’ll bring the lab to queer communities. My training as an artist and visual thinker is helpful when taking complex ideas from one isolated group and communicating them with another. Being an artist frees me from the economy and politics of science which can constrict career scientists’ thinking. I’m afforded freedom to imagine, to experiment, to fail, to be interdisciplinary.
Ryan Hammond is a new media artist living and working in Baltimore MD. Their work explores the myth of scientific objectivity by focusing on the often unseen interplay between scientific advancement and cultural production. For the past two years, they were a teacher // artist in residence at Futuremakers: a Baltimore based startup prototyping and facilitating STEAM experiences throughout the Baltimore Washington region. They received a BFA from MICA in spring 2012 with a minor in sustainability and social practice. Most recently completed projects include a series of workshops on DIY Geoengineering funded by NRG Energy Inc. and an exhibition of speculative product designs / techno-fictions created collaboratively with senior tech students at Western High School in Baltimore MD.
for more information and pictures of past work, visit my website here
Budgeted living costs are specific to Ottawa Canada and have been confirmed with my contacts who live in the area. The amounts listed below are in American Dollars, not Canadian Dollars.
ONE YEARS RENT IN A GROUP HOUSE $5,426.18
ONE YEAR OF GROCERIES $4,617.45
TRANSPORTATION (YEAR OF BUS PASSES) $1,150.80
HEALTH INSURANCE (One year of Canadian traveler’s insurance) $1,203.71
CELL SERVICE $660.00
ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD $240.00
MISC (toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, vitamins, life maintenance basics) $1808.73
DNA Synthesis Costs
DNA SYNTHESIS (enough to cover synthesis of 7 genes) $2,023.00
G-ASSEMBLY MASTER MIX (enough for 50 reactions) $630
UNFORESEEN COSTS $2000
ESTIMATED COST OF PAYPAL TRANSACTION FEES 2.9% FEE ON ALL TRANSACTIONS $544.04
.30 CENT FEE PER TRANSACTION (if all donations were $20) $289.55
MAILING AND MATERIALS COSTS FOR REWARDS $1,406.54
GRAND TOTAL $22,000.00
If you have any questions that aren’t answered below, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Will I get a transgenic hormone producing tobacco plant for donating?
Why are you using Tobacco plants?
Is there a possibility of getting nicotine from the plants when trying to take the hormones?
Are you going to patent the plants and sell them for profit? What's in it for you?
Are the hormones only for trans-people? Are you a trans person?
What if one year isn't enough time to produce a working prototype and the money is wasted?
Is the tobacco plant really the best way to create an opensource hormone production platform?
You're making a half human half plant monster! How could this be safe!?
You made your own crowdfunding website... why didn't you use Kickstarter or Indiegogo?
Documenting the Science
January 4th 2016
I'm putting together a website with detailed documentation of my process and the science behind OSG. I'm oping an accessible and transparent process will spark other's imaginations and help this idea grow. It's a work in progress, which should be fleshed out by the end of January.
Johns Hopkins Biotech and Biology Students Join OSG
December 8th 2015
I recently connected with two Biotechnology and Biology students from Johns Hopkins University who expressed interest in contributing to OSG (and who wish to remain anonymous). Very excited to have more minds with fresh perspectives joining the team to help with research and development!
Connecting with USDA-APHIS
December 7th 2015
I spoke with John Turner the director of environmental risk analysis at the USDA-APHIS who assured me that I was working legally and within regulation. I am now in the process of applying for permits to transport genetically modified materials.
Featured in the International Business Times
December 6th 2015
The International Business Times recently wrote an article about the project titled, Biologist to develop ‘transgenic tobacco plants’ for trans people to grow sex hormones at home. So grateful for the publicity, and visibility. I've received so many messages from people with concerns, hopes, excitement, encouragement, doubts, and questions. This campaign is valuable not only for the money that will give time to develop the project further, but for the incredible people it has connected me with. I'm so excited to have more trans and queer scientists, engineers, activists, and thinkers involved going forward, contributing, and holding the work accountable to the communities it could serve.
Featured on Vice Motherboard
December 1st 2015
OSG was recently featured on the technology news site, Vice Motherboard in an article titled, Queer Artist Launches DIY Gender Hormone Biohacking Project. A big thank you to Kari Paul for writing the phenomenal write up. She does a great job addressing ethical issues, questions of plausibility, and getting other voices to weigh in on the current state of trans healthcare. It's definitely worth reading!
Citizen Scientists Connected
November 29th 2015
Since starting this campaign, I've connected with other artists//designers//scientists who are working towards a similar goal. Mary Maggic is an Artist in MIT's design fiction program who is exploring open source methods of producing Estrogen. Ada Walpole is a designer in London biohacking to produce estrogen and progesterone on a local level for hormonal contraceptives. We'll be running experiments, sharing research and results, and cross-pollinating ideas. All across thousands of miles of ocean and land, thanks internet.
Marine Algea an Ideal Chasis
November 28th 2015
Very Excited to discover Will Patrick's project, Farma as I've been looking into marine species of algae with unusually high cholesterol content as a vehicle for pharming the sex hormones. Will's designed and shared the plans for a beautifully designed algae bioreactor that could potentially used to grow pharmaceutical producing greens. I'm excited to dig deeper into his models to see how it could be made cheaply and redesigned to serve queer and trans needs.
Portuguese subtitles added
November 27th 2015
The main video now has Portuguese subtitles available so you can share it with all your friends in Brazil and Portugal! Big thank you to Paula Marchesini for donating her time. Spanish, French, and Hindi translation to come.