Carissa Pinkston, a model for Rihanna's Savage X Fenty brand, was accused of making transphobic comments before she herself claimed to be transgender. She then admitted this was a lie - she was never transgender, but she said she was in panic, to feel she belonged. She has used a minority group for her own protection and selfishness. This should not be taken lightly, says Jennifer McShane
To be a part of any minority group in society comes with highs and lows. In one way, you have a unique community, a sense of understanding and support from those you may not know closely - or at all. They too know what it's like to feel the outsider, to feel 'other' and as if you don't belong. It's a wonderful thing.
The darker side of this is the struggle to be heard, the lack of understanding, the potential ostracisation. Only those who go through it have an acute understanding of the daily battles often needed for basic rights automatically afforded to other people. Being a part of one such minority, I understand this.
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So, for someone to claim they are a part of a specific community – and one who is consistently fighting for acceptance to reduce stigma – to use that as a shield for a potential backlash is abhorrently wrong.
But this is, bizarrely, what former Fenty model, 20-year-old Carissa Pinkston has done.
What exactly happened?
Pinkston is under fire for admitting that she lied about being transgender — a claim designed to save herself from transphobic comments she'd allegedly made previously.
When the comments, screenshot and shared online, surfaced, Pinkston recanted her statements and apologised — and 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 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 realise that I am a Woman. WE ALL ARE!"
Various models within the industry called out her statement, refuting her claims she had ever been transgender.
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-? pic.twitter.com/GtB55p8Cr5
— aaron philip (@aaronphilipxo) July 23, 2019
AAAAAAA SHE KEEPS POSTING MORE pic.twitter.com/WJIP9aZbAS
— Maci Laforge (@macypoops) July 27, 2019
She took to Instagram to apologise again, admitting the lie.
"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," she wrote.
"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."
Pinkston then elaborated to BuzzFeed News, saying, "I definitely feel like a trans person in a way — in high school, I was really bullied."
"I remember being in school being little and taking tissues and trying to put them in my shirt," she said. "I'm taking full responsibility for what I said."
But her so-called apology has fallen on deaf ears. It's simply not good enough to use another community to save your own skin - her entire handling of the situation is ensconced in ignorance.
In her falsely 'coming out' and revelling it a lie, almost casually, it makes a mockery of those who go through what can be a frightening and traumatising part of their journey.
To reveal your true self takes courage in any guise. It is not to be taken lightly.
And Pinkston's apology does little to make up for the damage done.
Main photograph: @nbcchigago