A Quadriplegic Daredevil, ID Gender Markers, Black Mental Health

August 22, 2018

When daredevil race car driver Mario Bonfante Jr. became a quadriplegic after a BMX bike crash, doctors and TruSpeed racers alike believed his future in racing was over—but Bonfante proved them wrong time and time again. First, he taught himself activities that ranged from balancing a burger on his knuckles to getting in and out of a passenger car. Next up was teaching himself to use both Google SketchUp and an engineering program called SolidWorks to dream up a race car that adapted to his physical needs. After defying machinists’ expectations and fighting a series of setbacks, Bonfante bought a used and gutted BMW M3, secured the help of his stepfather and a couple of mechanics, and built himself a race car that now allows him to reach 130 miles per hour with the help of spools, levers, springs, clamps, and his own two shoulders. While he continues to fight determinedly for a racing career and the technical support and funding to mass-produce his invention, Bonfante says, “If I’m going to win races and bring my technology to market so other people can use it, I have to keep testing my limits…I don’t know a limit. I haven’t found one and I don’t want to know any different.”

This Quadriplegic Daredevil Invented His Own Tech to Race at 130mph, by Mike Kessler of Narrative.ly

When the name, sex, or photo on someone’s ID doesn’t match the way they present themselves in day-to-day life, it can result in anything from harassment and denial of services to physical danger, and even make it harder to investigate if they go missing or are murdered. A recent report found that out of 85 police reports in murder cases of transgender people, 74 had the victim’s name and gender marker as indicated on their IDs, but not those they chose and used in their daily lives. Friends, neighbors, and co-workers who knew the individual by the name and gender they actually used often can’t identify them, making for longer investigations and false leads. Part of the problem is that changing a gender marker on a state ID can be almost impossible, depending on different state laws. The process can be prohibitively expensive, and some states even require proof of surgery. When people are finally able to accomplish it, the change on official documents can be a deeply emotional experience. Trystlynn Barber, a trans woman in Georgia, explains, “It’s the most amazing feeling.”

Video: For Trans People, It’s Difficult and Costly to Update an ID. But It Can Also Be Dangerous Not To., Ranjani Chakraborty, Lucas Waldron and Ken Schwencke of ProPublica

Actress and philanthropist Taraji P. Henson recently announced the upcoming launch of the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which specifically aims to “fight to change the stigma of mental health within the black community.” The foundation is named after her father, who was a Vietnam War veteran who struggled with both mental health issues and liver cancer until he passed away in 2006. Headed by Henson’s best friend, Tracie Jenkins, the foundation will provide youth mental health support and scholarships for Black students in mental health fields. Of the inspiration behind this endeavor, Henson explains, “My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken, and received little to no physical and emotional support. I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black.”

With Her New Foundation, Taraji P. Henson Wants To Change The Stigma Of Black Mental Health, by Stacy-Ann Ellis of VIBE