'I Panicked': The Terrible, Twisted Tale of the Model Who Lied About Being Transgender

Model Carissa Danielle Pinkston on September 18, 2018 in London, England.
Model Carissa Danielle Pinkston on September 18, 2018 in London, England.
Photo: Kirstin Sinclair (Getty Images)

What a tangled web we weave when transphobia leads us to deceive!

In what is easily one of the fashion world’s most disturbing and confusing narratives of late (and there have been many), last week, a rising model falsely claimed to be trans—to mitigate the fallout after a slew of recent transphobic statements came to light. As reported by both Paper and Out magazines, 20-year-old Carissa Danielle Pinkston, who has modeled for Savage x Fenty, Marc Jacobs, Coach, and Tiffany & Co., among others, found herself in the crosshairs of controversy—and dropped by her agents at Elite—after screenshots of recent but now-deleted Facebook posts and texts surfaced which were widely perceived to be transphobic.


But what Pinkston did next was even more outrageous. Like, for real, for real.

Per Paper magazine:

The model wrote in multiple since-deleted Facebook posts from May, under the name Rissa Danielle, that trans women were not women. Social media users who were able to find the receipts and have been witness to Pinkston’s transphobia have also said that on Instagram Live videos, she went as far as likening trans women to pedophiles. And on Monday, after being called out and getting fired, she took to Instagram Live, crying and seen to be saying something, but without audio as the video was muted. After the Live, she also posted a “coming out” note, trying to repair the damage by claiming that she was trans herself.

Say what, now? As captured via multiple screenshots, Pinkston, whose freckled, slightly androgynous looks launched her flourishing modeling career, posted her purported truth to Instagram on July 22.

I wasn’t ready to come out 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. 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 insecurities and I have since come to realize that I am a Woman… WE ALL ARE!


OK. A plausible, if very sad, self-loathing scenario...but was it true? A few of Pinkston’s associates and followers quickly quashed the claims on social media, expressing their disillusionment and disgust that Pinkston would resort to that level of subterfuge to garner sympathy.


Among those angered were (likely now-former) friend and fellow freckled Elite model (and Pinkston lookalike) Aleece Wilson (@oddfreckles), who faced her own onslaught of accusations of transphobia when she dared refute Pinkston’s claims via comments on Instagram.

Illustration for article titled 'I Panicked': The Terrible, Twisted Tale of the Model Who Lied About Being Transgender

Chile...thoroughly confused yet? Yeah, us too. But messes often are confusing, aren’t they? Thankfully, Pinkston cleared it all up for us (kinda) on Saturday, when she wrote an apologetic post that both confirmed her deception and her cowardice—though she noted that she’s “not a coward.”

“I apologize for any transphobic remark I’ve ever made towards the Trans community,” she wrote. “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.”


Whew, sis. Real talk? You couldn’t pay me to be 20 years old again for anything—though I’m reluctant to blame this debacle solely on Pinkston’s age, because even at that age I was never, ever that ridiculous (and trust, that bar is high). No telling if her modeling career will rebound—after all, Wilson’s also got the look, but let’s hope this is a teachable moment for Pinkston, because as they say, “pretty is as pretty does.”

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?



Why should we give them a pass simply because they are young? I hate to say it but many of the worst humans the world has ever known were turds at 20 too. If only we stooped them from having power and influence then we could certainly have circumvented many a terrible tragedy.

I for one am happy with her career dying off, removing her from the public eye, and letting her live with the knowledge that her actions directly caused her downfall. Seems more than fair if you ask me.