Hormone hacking: home-grown gender control.

The Open Source Gendercodes project is planning to take sex hormones out of the pharmaceutical factory and into the kitchens (and gardens) of any transgendered person who wants to grow a batch:

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?


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.

Are you going to patent the plants and sell them for profit? What’s in it for you?

I am an artist, and this is my artwork. I have to make money to survive, but the purpose of crowd sourcing funding rather than working for a company is to evade the need to patent and sell the product of my research for profit. My goal is to develop an accessible method of producing hormones that can be dedicated to the commons to prevent it ever being patented and monetized. This work is an experiment not only in synthetic biology and plant//human hybrids, but in speculating on what a communal pharmaceutical production system might look like. Is it possible to imagine a system in which all people have access to these tools, in which pharmaceuticals and useful chemicals can be grown cheaply. Could we have community hubs where pharmaceuticals could be grown and medical knowledge shared with those in the community? I’m not discounting the fact, that many medical decisions, diagnosis, and methods of administering treatment require years of intense study, and a deep understanding of the human body, molecular biology, etc. But I do think we can collectively imagine and work towards a system in which the cost of treatment is affordable, a system in which a trans-person could be in control of what happens to their body, and doesn’t need to seek out black market hormones.

Yes, this is a crowd-funded project. But it’s certainly got some fascinating angles to it.

Found via [Madrigal]