Media rebuttal

thescumfrontpageThe first negative media attention came from British tabloid newspaper the Sun [1]. A pale and gaunt visiting Delhi news correspondent Pamela Timms came to the temple of Bahucharaji. She approached me from the temple office, asked if I would give her an interview….

I agreed to one off interview with the stipulation that she would not sell my story to any tabloid newspaper and monies gained from any article would go straight to the temple trust charity. After agreeing we went to a cafe for an accompanying meal which she (as a food correspondent) carelessly refused to eat despite the meal being laid on the table for free!  At the end of the interview she asked if she could call me Pamela as her readers might not understand the name Pema, she said it was her name and in so she thought a nice name; I felt suspicious and somewhat dismayed so averted from answering the question. Pamela Timms left Gujarat soon after, I did not see her again until a few days later.

thescumcenterspreadNext day my mobile phone rang, it was my brother back in the UK vocalising concern about the News of the World being camped outside his house, he said tabloid journalists were also harassing my poorly mother (ill with schizophrenia) for a before and after photograph of my transition; they told my mother that the Hijra (Hindu transsexuals, third gender) were going to cut my genitalia off and that she could use the money from sale of a photograph to bring me back via flight ticket), my mother responded by declaring she only had one photo and they wasn’t getting it, good for her!

Pamela Timms returned to the temple three days later requesting another interview with me, she appeared aghast, set back when I told her how much of a liar she was; being as isolated as I was in the remote ‘jungle’ of Gujarat she’d thought I’d never hear about what was being reported in the news back in England. I told her no more interviews, she then tried to get the temple to talk before attempting to hire some local people to snoop on me.

bbcrudMost media coverage was disrespectful of my gender identity, I’d been living in full female role with a previous three year hormone treated diagnosis of gender dysphoria; even the supposedly politically correct BBC refused to recognise my gender identity [2]. The Sun newspaper editor also printed darshan pictures of Bahucharaji mataji on throw away newspaper which subsequently ended up in rubbish bins all over the UK; this not a very good thing to do as Hindus regard every printed image of the goddess herself as an incarnation. The ignorant, sensationalist paper also launched an information hotline requesting readers to come forward with information about me whilst another reporter attempted to bribe my brother with a thousand pounds for a negative story but thankfully he refused, the story eventually lulled as nobody else came forward.

Next came journalists from Indian TV channels; Aaj Tak filmed but didn’t interview, captured footage of me aligning crown chakras was screened over and over on Aaj Tak news channel for months. Sky news also came and secretly filmed with zoom lens whilst an undercover journalist with a hidden wire disguised himself along side genuine devotees. I tore out his hidden microphone and told him how wrong he was to approach me in this manner, his answer was  “Just because I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve” before disappearing; this undercover footage was then screened on Sky News India.

After a month inquisitive people started arriving to the temple from all over the globe to enquire having read about me in from corresponding newspapers. After being so badly deceived by the media I refused point blank to give any more press interviews.

Next came interest from the spreadsheets, an article from World News which both the Independent (and also the Belfast telegraph) ran this unsubstantiated negative story line [3] given to them by a local family of zealous Hijra (Indian Transexual people). Hijra local to the temple insidiously accused me, indirectly through this news agency of leaving them under cut without money and also claimed that I was misusing the proceeds given to me by devotees. I was eventually informed of this malicious story by another journalist who came to follow up and lucky for me to check on it’s authenticity. On request I handed the donation receipts from the temple trust which promptly reversed the story in my favour, neither World News, the Independent or the Belfast telegraph issued an apology.

News reports of me being from Tooting were false, I was squatting in Herne Hill with friends at the time the article was published. I only went to Tooting to visit a South Indian Shiva / Parvati temple which closed then relocated to Croydon some years later.  Newspapers also claimed I lived in a ‘spartan room’ but in reality this was a basic room with one bed, no air conditioning, a weak fan which span just enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay and a hole in the floor / ground to use as a toilet.

Another article referred to the temple of Bahucharaji Gujarat as a ‘remote jungle temple’; Indian people in the devotional town of Becharaji drive cars, use mobile phones; the towns surrounding land is agricultural resembling a kind of scorched English countryside. Doctors, teachers and pharmacists speak English, the town is ran efficiently and works hard to become prosperous, there is a train station and bus station operating services frequently; hardly a ‘remote jungle’ location.

A supposed quote from myself: “I do miss my boyfriend … but on the whole I was never happier in my life,” ran by Reuters news agency [4] was also a fabrication; I am asexual and in so I have never had a ‘boyfriend’ in my entire life.

This unwarranted attention left me feeling mauled but I just focused on my spiritual work which safely transcended past any discordant opinion held by others.

[1] The Sun – Reincarnation of Bahucharaji, Patron of Indian Eunuchs? – March 30, 2007
[2] BBC South Asia – UK man’s new life as Indian ‘goddess’- 12 April 2007, 12:54 GMT
[3] World News – British transsexual leaves Indian eunuchs out of pocket – 11, April 2007 – 11:41
[4] Reuters Life! – British transsexual causes stir at Indian temple – Apr 10, 2007 | 5:02am EDT