Entertainment

A Model Who Worked For Rihanna’s Fenty Line Tried To Cover Up Her Transphobia By Saying She Was Trans

@danilohess

In a bizarre and confusing story, Carissa Pinkston, a model who previously with Savage x Fenty and Marc Jacobs, has finally admitted to lying about being transgender. The 20-year-old model, who rose to prominence modeling for high-profile brands now says she is taking “full responsibility” for what she said. 

The saga started earlier this year when a former high school classmate retweeted screenshots of transphobic comments Pinkston made on Facebook.

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On her personal Facebook page, Pinkston allegedly had posted statements such as “being Transgender does NOT make you a Woman. It makes you simply Transgender” and “In a biological context there are Males and Females. This is the world in 2019”. According to Buzzfeed, a former classmate shared the images after finding the statements “utterly disappointing”. 

After Pinkston’s comments went public, Pinkston was dropped from Elite Model Management, the modeling agency that represented her. She faced widespread criticism online as fans and internet-users grappled with her transphobic comments. 

Things got even more complicated when Pinkston took to Instagram to “come out” as transgender after being fired from her agency.

Her statement read:  “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 come to realize that I am a woman… WE ALL ARE!”. She captioned the statement with a heart emoji and hashtagged it #lgbt. 

But, people who had known Pinkston all her life came forward claiming that Pinkston was not, in fact, transgender. 

One former classmate said she was “appalled” that Pinkston lied about something “so sensitive” and that she did so to cover up her own history of transphobia. 

When the news broke that Pinkston was lying about being transgender, this time the backlash was sharper and more widespread than before. Fellow models took to Twitter to publicly criticize her for co-opting the identity of such a marginalized group in order to gain clout. Followers of her Instagram expressed their disappointment in her. 

After the controversy reached a fever pitch, Pinkston claimed in an interview with Buzzfeed that she initially lied about being transgender because she was receiving death threats.

“People don’t know the entire story,” Pinkston 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”. She added that she was “not transphobic” and only lied because she “panicked”.

“The only reason I had lied was because of the death threats,” said Pinkston. “And I was scared, so I thought they would accept me only if I said I was trans”. 

But Pinkston doubled-down on her claim that she was part of the marginalized group, saying that she “felt like a trans person” because she was “really bullied” in high school.

“I know what it’s like to be bullied and picked on for being different. And I wanted to fit in a community,” she said.  “Just in that moment, I didn’t know what to do”.

Unsurprisingly, people online are not happy with Pinkston having appropriated a trans identity to avoid criticism for her transphobic comments.

It’s one thing to be bullied in high school and feel isolated because of it. It’s another thing to be the bully and then claim victimhood as a form of protection from (warranted) criticism. 

This person summed-up our thoughts towards this whole mess perfectly:

“Yikes” is right. We’d venture to say that Pinkston has a lot more learning to do–not just about the trans community, but about how to humble yourself and apologize without going into defense. 

The frustration is real. There are so many other ways to use your mistakes as a learning opportunity. Instead, Pinkston used it as an opportunity to lie and co-opt a movement. 

This Twitter user recognized the shaky defense of aligning yourself with a marginalized community because you were “bullied in high school”.

That’s not how this works…That’s not how any of this works!

This Twitter user made a really good point of how Pinkston took advantage of a community that faces discrimination from people like herself:

It really is offensive to all of the activists and organizers who have worked so hard to establish rights for themselves. 

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

Entertainment

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

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Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

Credit: @equalityfed / Twitter

While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

READ: Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

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After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

Credit: @outmagazine / Twitter

Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

Credit: @mghtranshealth / Twitter

While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried