Carissa Pinkston—known for her bright red hair and freckles—had the career almost any 20-year-old aspiring model dreamed of. She starred in high fashion editorials for Marc Jacobs, Prabal Gurung, Edie Parker and even joined Rihanna's Savage x Fenty crew. But her career came to a screeching halt recently after fans called her out for previously posting transphobic comments and then subsequently pretending to be transgender to avoid the backlash.
According to screenshots obtained by Twitter user @CeceliaJinks, Pinkston posted a few messages on Facebook in May under the name Rissa Danielle, writing, "Being Transgender does NOT make you a woman. It makes you simply Transgender." In another post, Pinkston doubled down on her comment. "Being Transgender does not make you a woman in a Transgender context according to gender and sex," she wrote. "This is how they want to be perceived. In a biological context there are Females and Males. This is the world in 2019."
A few months after posting those messages, Pinkston retracted her statements and issued an apology in which she also came out as transgender. "I wasn’t ready to come about it yet but today I got fired and I’ve been receiving hate mail and death threats ever since so I’m being forced to tell the truth,” she wrote in a note she posted to her Instagram. “I’m Transgender. I transitioned at a very young age and I’ve lived my Life as a female ever since. It’s been very hard to keep this secret but what I said about Trans-Women is a direct reflection of my inner securities and I have since come to realize that I am a Woman. WE ALL ARE!"
However, several models within the community and those close to Carissa believe she only "came out" to avoid any further backlash. Transgender model Aaron Phillip spoke out against Pinkston, writing, "imagine being a model who got exposed for being a raging transphobe/saying extremely transphobic shit in the past and then resorting to LYING ABOUT BEING TRANSGENDER ONLINE FOR CLOUT IN ATTEMPT TO SAVE YOUR CAREER...? i know this person irl and she is SO CISGENDER?? Y’ALL I-?"
Pinkston posted another note to her Instagram, this time admitting to lying about being transgender and apologizing for her comments.
"I apologize for any transphobic remark I've ever made towards the Trans community," she wrote in a screenshot of the note taken by another Twitter user. "I panicked and 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. I'm truly sorry. I'm only 20 and I'm human. I make mistakes but I refuse to let them define me. I hope you all can forgive me and move on from this because I'm so much more than this incident and I'm not a coward."
The model also posted photos of transgender model and Euphoria star Hunter Schafer and revealed that Hunter is no longer speaking to her and urged the transgender community to educate her to avoid any future slip-ups.
At the time of writing, Pinkston deleted all the posts and has returned to promoting her recent fashion editorials.
Nerisha Penrose Assistant Editor Nerisha is the assistant editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty and fashion.