5 Epic April Fools’ Day Pranks for Social Good

The humorless feminist. The oversensitive animal rights activist. The easily offended LGBT rights supporter.

Society is quick to claim that folks in social justice should lighten up. This advice usually comes from people who want to discount our work. But as it turns out, we do have a few tricks up our sleeves.

Here are five April Fools’ Day pranks that leveraged support for causes including LGBT rights, environmental protection and more.

1. The NCTE claimed to be developing a new type of transgender person. 

On April 1, 2015, the National Center for Transgender Equality sent out a press release, explaining that it was opening a “state-of-the-art laboratory” to create trans people who don’t need to pee.

Allegedly, the Florida legislature would dedicate $1 million to this groundbreaking initiative. At the time, state lawmakers were pushing an anti-trans law that would prevent trans individuals from using public bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity.

2. Emma Goldman let hundreds of rats loose in Macy’s.

As Herschel Hoff notes in Vice, many people trace April Fools’ Day origins back to a Persian holiday, when the king would give everyone a day off — but force them to eat pudding until they vomited.

Although the holiday has oppressive roots, marginalized people have turned April Fool’s Day into a historic day of protest. U.S. slaves planned escapes on this day, and political dissidents organized protests in the late 19th century, for instance.

In 1899, anarchist political activist and writer Emma Goldman even released a torrent of rats in a Macy’s department store!

3. Naked activists overtook a pharmaceutical company’s lobby.

Last year, those at the headquarters of HIV drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences got a little surprise. Naked demonstrators swarmed their lobby, demanding that the heath care industry stop prioritizing profit over public health.

“We stand here naked, completely vulnerable, a state in which the current system leaves millions around the world,” ACT UP London’s Jake Chambers told NewNowNext. “We also stand with bareness and honesty, and we demand that drug companies be exposed in the same way.”

 4. The ‘Yes Men’ unveiled their shenanigans.

A group called the “Yes Men” once surprised senators on Capitol Hill by presenting a “Survivaball” suit that helps people survive climate change.

They’ve also impersonated corporate representatives who said they’d clean up a toxic chemical spill in India on BBC World — the actual company refused.

The Yes Men released a DVD of their anti-establishment antics on April 1, 2010.

5. Sea Shepherd claimed to set up 500 seal decoys on ice for hunters.

Also in 2010, Canada’s Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said they installed hundreds of baby seal decoys set to explode in a torrent of red jello when hunters approached.

As it turns out, this was a lie. And so was the claim that they rigged the decoys to play a recording questioning the hunters’ masculinity.

Humor remains an underused — and unexpected — tool in social justice work. But making someone laugh can also make someone think.

Photo Credit: cheriejoyful/Flickr


Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Carl R
Carl R10 months ago


Peggy B
Peggy B10 months ago

Fun article.

Maria R
Past Member 11 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Carl R
Carl R11 months ago


Marija M
Marija M11 months ago


ali a
ali a11 months ago


Patrice Z
Patrice Z11 months ago

Yes, making someone laugh can also make them think.

Carl R
Carl R11 months ago


Leo C
Leo C11 months ago

Thank you for posting!