The 20-year-old model who became a face of the Savage X Fenty brand — and who recently admitted to lying about being transgender to cover up for anti-trans comments she made on Facebook in May — told BuzzFeed News she is now "taking full responsibility for what [she] said."
In her first comments about the controversy, Carissa Pinkston opened up 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 claimed in a phone interview. Pinkston initially demanded payment for an interview; when BuzzFeed News declined, she called back to talk.
Pinkston didn't say if she identifies as transgender. However, in response to admitting over the weekend to falsely coming out, she told BuzzFeed News: "I'm taking full responsibility for what I said."
The initial lie, then the apparent justification for the lie, all spun out earlier this year when a high school friend named Cecelia Jinks screenshotted and tweeted anti-trans comments Pinkston made on her personal Facebook page suggesting that transgender women are not women.
Jinks told BuzzFeed News she was friendly with Pinkston, and shared mutual friends with her when they attended school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She said she found the Facebook comments to be anti-trans and "utterly disappointing."
But when she saw her old classmate falsely saying she was transgender last week in an Instagram post that's now deleted, she felt she had to say something and began tweeting @SavageXFenty.
"I double-checked with all my friends who have known her for years and years, and when I was finally 100% sure she was lying I was horrified," Jinks said. Pinkston denies knowing Jinks or being friends with her at all.
Jinks added, "Not only was I appalled that she lied about something so sensitive to so many people, but that she did so to cover up her mistake of making transphobic posts on social media."
Fellow models also chimed in on social media.
Pinkston, however, denied that she lied about being transgender to "cover up" her initial Facebook comments.
"It was never to avoid any backlash, but I did panic," said Pinkston. "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."
When asked if she had lied about coming out, Pinkston said, "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."
She added, "I got an experience of what a transgender person goes through."
When asked about how her borrowing an identity is causing so much anger and hurt online, the model and influencer said that while she understands, she continues to feel misunderstood by others. She also said her agency had dropped her in the fallout.
"I completely understand, but people don’t know the entire story," she said. "Everyone was saying my original comment was transphobic, but you can’t expect everyone to know everything about a culture or movement if they never have taken the time to be fully educated on it.
"I'm definitely not transphobic," she said.
Jinks wants her old friend to realize that she's made a mockery of a community of people who are already disenfranchised.
"I am beyond disappointed that she would use her platform with thousands of followers to mock and illegitimize an entire community of people," she said.
"I can relate to trans people, and being marginalized, and being African American and from an oppressed group," she told BuzzFeed News. "I have nothing against trans people; I wanted to speak my mind."
Savage X Fenty has not responded to multiple requests for comment.