Model admits to falsely coming out as transgender to avoid backlash

After posting a series of transphobic remarks on social media, Carissa Pinkston falsely claimed to be transgender.
Street Style - Paris June 30th
Model Carissa Pinkston waits after the Miu Miu Cruise/Resort 2019 fashion show on June 30, 2018 in Paris.Melodie Jeng / Getty Images file
By Gwen Aviles

A model who falsely claimed to be transgender to deflect backlash over past transphobic social media comments now says she takes “full responsibility” for her remarks.

In May, Carissa Pinkston, a model for Rihanna's Savage X Fenty lingerie line, posted a series of remarks to her Facebook account, where she went by the name Rissa Danielle.

“Being transgender does not NOT make you a woman. It simply makes you transgender,” Pinkston wrote in one of the posts.

In another, she stated that though transgender people “want to be perceived” as male or female, “in a biological context, there are males and females.”

When she was called out for her comments at the time, Pinkston did not apologize, but rather likened the notion of transgender identity to reclaiming virginity.

Screenshots of these now-deleted comments resurfaced on Twitter last week, and Pinkston was promptly fired from her agency, Elite Models.

In response to the backlash over her May comments, the cisgender (nontransgender) model posted a statement on her Instagram account on July 22 in which she falsely came out as trans.

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“I wasn’t ready to come out yet but today I got fired and I’ve been receiving hate mail and death threats ever since so I’m forced to tell everyone the truth,” she wrote. “I’m transgender.”

"I thought if I came out as trans that I could somehow make things better for myself but it appears I’ve only made things worse."

Carissa Pinkston

The 20-year-old model said she transitioned “at a young age” and that her social media comments reflected her personal insecurities.

“I have since come to realize that I am a Woman. WE ALL ARE!” Pinkston wrote.

Yet online critics and real-life acquaintances of the model cast doubt on her revelation.

“I've seen baby pictures of Carrissa, I've seen her fully naked, I've been around this women long enough to fully know her," Aleece Wilson, a fellow model, wrote under Pinkston’s coming out post. "We have many trans friends this conversation would have definitely been brought up."

Aaron Philip, a gender-nonconforming trans model, also weighed in on Pinkston’s post, tweeting that “i know this person IRL and she is so cisgender.”

"Imagine being a model who got exposed for being a raging transphobe/saying extremely transphobic sh*t in the past and then resorting to LYING ABOUT BEING TRANSGENDER ONLINE FOR CLOUT IN ATTEMPT TO SAVE YOUR CAREER...?" Phillips wrote.

Following this criticism, Pinkston issued an apology Sunday on Instagram and confessed that she is not in fact transgender.

“I apologize for any transphobic remark I’ve ever made towards the trans community,” she wrote. “I thought if I came out as trans that I could somehow make things better for myself but it appears I’ve only made things worse.”

She also posted pictures of her with “Euphoria” star and trans model Hunter Schafer. Though Schafer is no longer speaking to Pinkston, she said their past friendship shows she is not transphobic and that she loves trans people.

Pinkston’s Instagram account appears to have since been deleted, but on Tuesday she granted her first post-controversy interview to BuzzFeed News.

“I definitely feel like a trans person in a way — in high school I was really bullied,” Pinkston told the news site.

Pinkston claimed that she lied about her gender identity because she was receiving death threats.

“People don’t know the entire story," she said. "Everyone was saying my original comment was transphobic, but you can’t expect everyone to know everything about a culture or movement if they never have taken the time to be fully educated on it.”

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