A model told the whole world she was transgender. Within days, her story unravelled.


Until two weeks ago, model Carissa Pinkston was best known for her freckles. The redhead had been featured in Vogue as one of five models who were “revolutionising the freckle movement across all skin tones”.

Pinkston had modelled for Marc Jacobs and Savage x Fenty, and had even appeared on stage with Rihanna at the Grammys in 2018.

But in the past two weeks, Pinkston has become much better known for something very different and a lot less attractive than freckles. It’s a complicated story.

In May this year, someone on Facebook called Rissa Danielle – apparently, Pinkston using a fake name – posted some comments attacking transgender people.

“Being transgender does NOT make you a woman,” she wrote. “It makes you simply transgender.”

In the next post, she expanded on her views: “Being transgender does not make you a woman in a transgender context according to gender and sex. This is how they want to be perceived. In a biological context there are females and males. This is the world in 2019.”

The posts were deleted, but last week, they began circulating on Twitter, with Pinkston’s name linked to them. Not surprisingly, Pinkston was dropped by her agency, Elite Models.


Pinkston – who Vogue describes as being “born to an African-American pastor and her ‘first lady of the church’ mum” – then posted on social media, claiming she was transgender herself.

“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. “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 realise that I am a woman. WE ALL ARE!”

There was just one small problem with that. The freckle-faced model is not, in fact, transgender. Aleece Wilson, another freckle-faced model who Pinkston had previously described as being a “long-lost sister”, declared on social media that Pinkston was lying about her identity.


“I’ve seen baby pictures of Carissa, I’ve seen her fully naked, I’ve been around this woman long enough to fully know her,” Wilson posted. “We have many trans friends. This conversation would have definitely been brought up.”

Pinkston seemed defensive at first, replying to Wilson, “It’s sad because I really thought you were my friend”.

Another model, Aaron Philip, also attacked Pinkston on Twitter.

“Imagine being a model who got exposed for being a raging transphobe/saying extremely transphobic s–t 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?”


View this post on Instagram


I’m teaching myself Spanish and Guitar again. Let’s hope I stay dedicated this time lol ????????????

A post shared by  Twist❣️ (@twistpinkston) on


Within a matter of days, Pinkston had confessed.

“I panicked and thought that 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 can all forgive me and move on from this.”

Later, she posted a photo of herself with Euphoria star Hunter Schafer, who is a transgender woman, complaining, “I been friends with Hunter way before all these comments and now she won’t even talk to me”.

Pinkston has gone back to posting fashion photos of herself on Instagram. But her followers aren’t quite ready to forgive and forget.

“So instead of taking the time to learn about trans women and their struggles like you should’ve been doing this entire time, you’re… posting photos of yourself?” wrote one.

“Why are beauty gurus getting cancelled for the smallest of things while a lot of people are letting this lying, transphobic model off the hook?” asked another.

“Moving on” from this might take a little bit longer than Pinkston was hoping for.

Do you think Pinkston will be able to move on from this scandal? Tell us in a comment below.

Want more Mamamia stories? Sign up to our newsletters and get our best stories straight into your inbox.