Carissa Pinkston stunned her peers in the modeling industry this week by admitting she lied about identifying as transgender.
The debacle began in May, when a number of Facebook posts Pinkston made under the name Rissa Danielle surfaced. In a May 23 post, she wrote, “Being transgender does NOT make you a woman. It makes you simply transgender.”
Later, on June 5, she continued, “If [transgender women] can say they’re women, I can reclaim my virginity.”
The 20-year-old Pinkston ― who has modeled for Rihanna’s lingerie line, Savage x Fenty, along with Marc Jacobs and other brands ― has since deleted the posts. However, screenshots of her remarks began circulating widely on social media last week.
Once Pinkston’s inflammatory remarks came to light, she was fired by her agency, Elite Models, on or around July 22, Paper magazine reported over the weekend.
The dismissal prompted Pinkston to make yet another startling claim on social media: that she, herself, identified as transgender.
“I transitioned at a very young age and I’ve lived my life as a female ever since,” she wrote July 22, adding that her earlier transphobia was merely a “reflection of my inner insecurities.”
Pinkston’s supposed coming out note, however, only prompted further scrutiny online. Fellow model Aleece Wilson, who uses the Instagram handle @oddfreckles, called the note “terrible and disgusting,” and said Pinkston was “lying to thousands of people.”
Aaron Philip, a model who is transgender, also spoke out on Twitter.
On July 27, Pinkston attempted to do damage control once again with an apology.
“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 in a post. “I’m truly sorry. I’m only 20 and I’m human. I make mistakes but I refuse to let them define me.”
In an interview published Tuesday, Pinkston told BuzzFeed that she is now “taking full responsibility for what [she] said,” but stressed that she’s “definitely not transphobic.”
“It was never to avoid any backlash, but I did panic,” she said. “And I do know what it’s like to be bullied and picked on for being different. And I wanted to fit in a community. Just in that moment, I didn’t know what to do.”
Regarding her decision to claim that she identified as trans, Pinkston added, “The only reason I had lied was because of the death threats. And I was scared, so I thought they would accept me only if I said I was trans. I got an experience of what a transgender person goes through.”
HuffPost reached out to Pinkston for additional comment.