The Augment Rights Movement encompassed a period of social movements with the goal of ending American anti-genetic modification policies and social discrimination against augmented humans. During this movement, augmented humans and their allies had a long history of campaigning for what is now generally called GM rights, sometimes also called augment rights. Although there is not a primary or an overarching central organization that represents all augmented people and their interests, numerous GM rights organizations are active worldwide.
By the 2060s genetic engineering had become an increasingly common practice for humans, though a form of genetic modification had been in use for the better part of the last 40 years to eliminate genetic defects in in vitro embryos. In 2040, only about 7100 people had been genetically modified, most in the US and Canada, and a few in Japan and South Korea. These GM Humans, often called Augments, were the first humans to freely modify their own genetic code for personal gain. By 2060 that number had jumped to 34 million. The main catalyst for this explosion in genetic modification was the Third World War. During and just prior to the conflict, the United States military spent a considerable amount of money on Human Augmentation R&D. Bionic augmentation had been in use since the 2020s and 30s, but was not in wide use due to the risk of rejection by the body and the invasive implant procedures. The lead up to WWIII and the Colonization of Space jump-started genetic engineering in humans, and post-natal modification grew by leaps and bounds during WWIII.
US Defense Department Technology Transfer programs enabled private companies to begin introducing genetic modification technologies into the public at large shortly after the war. Initially these modifications were adopted purely by the medical community for eliminating genetic defects, viral disease, or increasing patient resistance to environmental health risks. By 2058 the first enhancements to muscle and lung performance entered the mass market, originally marketed to spacers, and people recovering from muscle atrophy. However, during the 2058 Warsaw Winter Olympics, American Decathlete, Nala Jackson, received modifications for lung function and muscle recovery, leading to her record breaking victory. It was discovered shortly after her Gold Medal ceremony that she had received augmentations, and the subsequent investigation led to new regulations against genetic modification in the Olympics. While Jackson was largely condemned by the mainstream athletic community, she found a great deal of support in the Paralympic community which had been breaking unaugmented athlete's records for years, and seldom received the kind of media attention and sponsor-ships of their unaugmented counterparts. This scandal brought augmentation to the public eye, and is typically seen as both the start of public discourse and the increased popularity of genetic augmentations.
After the Jackson scandal, genetic augmentation became a hot button issue, and was viewed by a large portion of society as a social ill. The Green and Conservative Parties adopted a policy to ban its use and punish those who sought genetic augmentation with prison time. In 2060, Senator Reed Chen won his bid for the White House, partly for his anti-augmentation rhetoric. For the first time since the creation of the progressive coalition, members of the green party defected to join the Conservatives on key votes, most famously the Falana act which banned human augmentation for what it defined as "recreational," uses. Just prior to the Falana act, many new genetic modifications had become available that the act would define as recreational augmentations. These included tails, skin patterns, and augmentations that emulated the look and function of animals (eyes, claws, padded feet, reproductive organs, etc.). The majority of these aumentations were used by the youth, mainly people in high school or early college, though there were some older people who opted for similar augmentations.
The first recorded hate crime against a Genetically Modified person was committed in 2064 when Toray Shears of Delaware was stoned to death outside of a Mormon tabernacle. Shears, 19, had recently received a genetic augmentation that dramatically increased his singing range, which he was recorded as hoping to apply in his choir. His assailant was initially found not guilty of murder after the judge in Idaho defined Toray Shears (and indeed all augments) as non-humans, and therefore not afforded the legal protections of the American laws. Thatch v. Utah was eventually brought before the Supreme court after a year long appeal process, and in a 5 to 4 decision, it was ruled that augmented humans were still basically human beings and afforded all the rights of the constitution.
Many sociologists and anthropologists have suggested that the extreme backlash against augmented humans, particularly among the Flood Generation, stemmed from their own generation's "naturalist culture," that grew out of the LGBT Rights Movement of the early 21st Century. Many progressive figures of that era used naturalist arguments to gain support for equal marriage rights for non-heteronormative couples. While many agree this was essential to breaking down cultural barriers against sexuality and ethnicity, many believe this caused the Flood Generation to overvalue naturalism in their formative years. Many argue the effects of climate change bolstered this belief in naturalism while their successors more readily embraced post-naturalist ideas.
For much of the 2060s human augmentation continued to leak its way into mainstream society, and while cosmetic or recreational augmentations were popular among the youth, most augmentations were actually used for improving an individual's physical or mental capabilities. Athlete's continued to use genetic and bionic modifications to augment their performance, while professionals sought mental augmentations to increase their abilities in the workplace. Much of the actual public backlash was directed at many of these individuals, often by workplace colleagues, neighbors, family members, and on university campuses, fellow students.
In the United States, the first wave of Augment Rights advocates chose to adopt similar policies to to the gay liberation movement of the late 20th Century, and began opting for expressive genetic enhancements. Prior to the political movement, sex organs were the most common of these types of enhancements, and many subcultures began to change themselves to resemble what they would normally have to dress up as i.e Cosplay. But the Augment Liberation movement chose to adopt simple, visually pleasing augmentations that were designed to shock public perception of augmentation. The movement carried out a series of rallies and demonstrations supporting human augmentation, however, poll data from that era indicated that the movement actually did more to push the public in opposition to augmentation until Thatch v. Utah scandalized and embarrassed those who were anti-augment and helped to turn the public over to their side.
Augmentation Rights Act
In 2070 the Augmentation Rights Act overturned the Falana Act's most radical policies, but maintained a ban on all post-natal augmentations before the age of 18. Public opinion began to sway when older Augment Rights leaders began to coordinate with veterans' groups and space industry figures to promote augmentation as a force for good.