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Transcript of Laverne Cox
Since Laverne Cox is both a speaker and an author I would assume that her learning style is verbal. This learning style are characterized by the ability to learn well through words, speech and writing; often people with this learning style will either read, or speak aloud to learn something (Lepi). Laverne Cox's ability to learn through this style would aid her with things like: memorizing lines, preparing speeches, writing articles and reading the work of others.
Although we all have some characteristics of each gem personality type, I believe that the two dominant gem personalities of Laverne Cox are sapphire and pearl. People with the personality type of sapphire are outgoing, social and motivated by fun, while people with the personality type of pearl are compassionate, love to help others and motivated by causes. (Campbell) I believe Laverne Cox is a sapphire because she is an actress that lives with constant attention on her. In order to be successful in that job, you must be outgoing. But, in my opinion she is also a pearl because of the large amount of activism work she has done.
Conflict Management Style
Laverne Cox, in my opinion, is one of the leaders of the current social movement to accept transgender people and especially transgender women of colour. With this political fame comes many conflicts. Through examining her responses to conflict in the media, online and in print, I believe her conflict management style is competing. This means, that Laverne Cox will pressure others to accept her point of view as correct, without compromising or considering the suggestions of others (Fisher). This conflict management style is seen through numerous speeches and interviews where she directly addresses issues. In my opinion, this quote accurately sums up how Laverne Cox approaches conflict, "This is who I am, this is my story, I will not be silent anymore, I will not be in hiding anymore," (Breen).
Laverne Cox and her twin brother M. Lamar were born on May 29, 1984 in Mobile, Alabama,(Breen) and lived with their mother, as their father was not a part of their lives (Steinmetz). As a child, Laverne enjoyed reading, television and dance. Although her mother, a teacher, was skeptical at first, Laverne was put into dance classes at age eight (Cox). Throughout her school years, she experienced bullying, but Laverne Cox was still straight-A student in Junior High, and attended the Alabama School for Fine Arts for high school. This may have been influenced by the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church that Cox and her family attended, as she was encouraged to be successful and accomplished through this community (Breen). Her passion for the arts continued after graduation and Laverne enrolled at Indiana University, studying dance. She finished her degree in fine arts at Marymount Manhattan College (Hilepo) where she began acting (Breen).
Although she was assigned male at birth, Laverne Cox has always felt like a woman. In her childhood, she enjoyed dancing, music and imaginary play; actions that met criticism from her mother, and others around her (Cox). By age eight, Laverne was convinced she was a girl, even with a therapist that insisted she could not be, (Cox) and a third-grade teacher that told her mother “Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress if you don’t get him into therapy right away," (Breen). This, and the bullying she experienced throughout her school years led to negative feelings about herself. Laverne even attempted suicide at age eleven (Breen). But, later in life things began to look up. In high school and in college, she began to bend gender norms, "wearing culottes and bell-bottoms and makeup" (Breen). After college, Laverne began living full-time as a woman, she changed her name, started using "she/her" pronouns and later, medically transitioned. Even though she is still met with criticism today, Laverne Cox has noted " I have support now. I have people in my life who support and validate me as who I am," (Cox).
Laverne Cox has always enjoyed the arts. As a child, she enjoyed reading about black artists such as opera singer Leontyne Price and Arthur Mitchell, the founder of Dance Theater of Harlem (Breen). She also was very passionate about dance, and began dance lessons at age eight. Throughout high school and college, which she attended for dance and fine arts, her passion flourished. At Marymount Manhattan College she had her first acting role “I was the village idiot," she says, "but I stole the show with just grinning and nodding.” Soon enough, Laverne Cox landed her first film role, and acting became a profession, rather than just a hobby (Breen). In 2008, she was the first trans woman of color to appear on an American reality television program, VH1’s I Wanna Work for Diddy. This is where she got her break and she even received GLAAD Award for Outstanding Reality Program (Hilepo). Later, Laverne began her most famous role as Sophia Burset in the Netflix original series "Orange is the New Black". To date, Laverne Cox has been named one of Out magazine’s “Out 100,” one of the country’s top 50 trans icons by Huffington Post, one of Metro Source magazine’s “55 People We Love" and has been nominated for a GLAAD media award (Hilepo).
Awards, Feedback and Changes
How this makes her unique / a good leader
Why this is effective
Application to me
Comparing myself to her
What I can learn from her
Laverne Cox has heavily relied on social media, not only to gain new fans, but also to connect with her existing fans and address them directly. Currently, Laverne Cox operates a twitter account, where she has over 250, 000 followers, a tumblr account, a facebook page and her own website. She is quite active on all social media platforms, for example, she tweets about three times per day. She also replies to the tweets, messages and posts of her fans regularly. To me, social media is very effective way to get to know your people and meet their needs. I believe the Laverne Cox understands that many of her fans are young, and that social media is a very easy and accessible way for her to address her people and for her people to address her. Examples of Laverne Cox getting to know her fans through social media can be seen in the posts she reblogs on tumblr, the tweets she retweets and what she shares on facebook. Most of these messages come from the fans themselves, telling Laverne about an experience, or asking for her opinion. The effectiveness of this social media strategy is obvious; Laverne Cox has thousands of followers already and gains new followers everyday.
Laverne Cox also uses political activism to connect with and meet the needs of her people. She not only travels from school to school, speaking about issues of transphobia and racism, she also is producing a documentary combating the transmisoginistic culture in the prison system (Hilepo). To me, these actions of political activism are examples of how Laverne Cox has assessed what needs to change for people like her, and those who follow her, but is also taking action to change it. Laverne Cox is an icon to young trans people. Some of her fans have even noted that Laverne's visibility in the media have helped them come out as transgender themselves. Through her stance on how transgender people should be viewed in the media, the criminal system and regular life : "where it is no [longer] acceptable for trans lives to be stigmatized, ridiculed, criminalized, and disregarded.” (Breen), her stance on racism and her stance on feminism, Laverne Cox is standing up for those who do not have a voice. "We’re able to have a voice in a way that we haven’t been able to before. We’re being able to write our stories and we’re being able to talk back to the media … We are the reason. And we are setting the agenda in a different way," (Steinmetz).
The success Laverne Cox has had in connecting with her fans and meeting their needs is obvious through the changes she has made in the media, her large fan base and the many awards and achievements she has received. To begin, Laverne Cox changed the way the media approaches transgender people. Before Laverne became famous, transgender people such as Chaz Bono, who was frequently called "she" and asked about his gender confirmation surgery, were often disrespected and dehumanized (Sachs). But now, Laverne Cox has lead the way in creating a higher standard. She even famously told an interviewer that said she was born a boy "I was assigned male at birth is the way I like to put it, because I think we're born who we are and the gender thing is something someone imposes on you," (Jules). Also, the success Laverne has had in connecting with her people can be seen through the number of fans she has. Laverne Cox's official twitter has over 250 000 followers and her facebook page has almost 300 000 likes. These pages are filled with stories and content made by her fans, connecting with her and creating changes in their own communities. Finally, Laverne Cox has received many awards and achievements. She was the first transgender woman of color to appear on the cover of "Time" magazine, she won Best Supporting Actress at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival and she accepted the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Reality Program (Hilepo). These awards show how her fans, and society in general appreciates not only her acting abilities but also her leadership and strong opinions.
The dynamic, charismatic and stubborn, but also kind and compassionate personality of Laverne Cox is not unusual to great leaders. In my opinion, other people who have historically had a great impact on the world, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Princess Diana share many of Laverne Cox's characteristics. The reason why I believe a combination of outgoing and aggressive but also gentle and friendly personality is so effective is because it makes these leaders strong enough to stand up against injustice and lead others, and relatable enough to listen to what their people have to say and attract a following. This has meant popularity and societal change for Laverne Cox and many other leaders. But, one thing that sets Laverne Cox apart from other great leaders is the way in which she found her fame. Unlike other leaders of political movements, Laverne Cox is an actress that attracted her fans towards social issues through the fame she gained in the television industry. To me, this makes her a great leader because it opens the eyes of the average viewer towards problems in their society in an accessible way. This way, Laverne Cox has sparked the interest of millions towards transgender acceptance and facilitated real change.
Out of the five styles of leadership, leader as teller, leader as delegator, leader as persuader, leader as consultant and leader as joiner, I feel that the style that best summarizes Laverne Cox is leader as persuader. This leadership style is characterized by the leader including team members in decision making and encouraging cooperation, but ultimately making the final decision themself. (Campbell) The reason I believe the leadership style of leader as persuader is the best fit for Laverne Cox is because, although she routinely listens to and responds to her fans, she still the forefront of her movement for transgender acceptance. An example of this leadership style can be seen through a tweet from one of her fans that Laverne Cox retweeted. This tweet says: "Thank you @Lavernecox for being so outspoken and taking the lead. As a mother of a transgender son, your words and projects are priceless." (Mama) To me, this demonstrates that Laverne's words and actions influence others, but they acknowledge she is the leader in this situation. Another example would be how in this interview Laverne Cox gives advice to transgender and non binary young people: " It’s about doing the work and believing and finding those people," (Korducki). This quote also shows that Laverne encourages her people to participate in the movement, but still establishes herself as an example.
I think Laverne Cox's leadership style of leader as persuader is effective in this situation because it opens up this movement to participation by many people, but also provides a distinctive and unifying leader as an example. The culture that surrounds LGBTQ+ activism can be daunting to a lot of outsiders. There is a lot of foreign terminology, expected knowledge of history and odd ways of acting or dressing. I believe that Laverne Cox's style of leadership effectively pushes fans towards this community without expecting them to navigate this often confusing culture by themselves, or forcing them to make important or ultimate decisions. This style of leadership also, consequently teaches people to participate in political movements and discover what they are passionate about. I believe that once people's eyes have been opened to societal issues such as discrimination against transgender people, they begin to educate themselves about others issues as well. This breeds a culture of acceptance and activism, all created by leaders such as Laverne Cox who can effectively direct this type of movement.
The leader as persuader leadership style that Laverne Cox uses is one that I could definitely see myself using. Since I am a perfectionist and I have difficulty delegating major decisions and tasks to other people, but I still would like to seem personable and compassionate to others, this leadership style is perfect for me. I would feel very comfortable consulting with others on their opinions, pushing them to participate in discussions and to educate themselves, but ultimately shaping the path of each topic and making final decisions myself. This way, I would remain in control, but also be able to gauge what the people I am leading need and make decisions that benefit them. Also, the way Laverne Cox has presented herself as someone who is confident and dynamic through this leadership style is something I would like to embrace for myself. I would like, just as Laverne Cox, to be seen as someone who is competent in their leadership skills, is educated on what their people want and will stand up for what they believe is correct.
In many ways I believe Laverne Cox and I are very similar. To begin, we share the leader as persuader leadership style. We both feel the most comfortable letting others contribute in the decision making process and participate in all discussion, but retain ultimate control over all decisions. Also, some of our personality traits are similar, since we both value compassion and human rights, making part of our personality types pearl. Finally, our past experiences are similar in the fact that both of us have face discrimination against our gender identity, and seek to improve the experiences of others.
Although we are similar in many ways, there are also ways in which we are different. Firstly, despite my passion for the arts, I do not intend to go into acting as a career like Laverne Cox has. I would prefer to lead through politics or law. Also, our personalities differ in the fact that I am an introvert and do not enjoy interacting with large groups of people. While Laverne Cox has elements of the sapphire gem personality type in her, I am much more like an emerald. Finally, I must acknowledge that I am much more privileged than Laverne Cox because of my race, and the community in which I live. I have not faced discrimination based on my race, and very minimal discrimination based on other factors such as: sexual orientation, mental illness and amount of money my family has. In this way I am a lot more fortunate than Laverne Cox.
I would definitely consider Laverne Cox to be one of my role models. I would love to follow in her footsteps in terms of making a difference in the media, in politics and in the minds of the average person. Her actions are especially meaningful to me because she is fighting for the rights of oppressed groups, which is something I am very passionate about and strive to do in the future. I hope one day I can be as influential as she has become and I also hope people will look to me in the same way I look up to and compare myself to her.
But, while I am still growing, there are several things I can learn from Laverne Cox and apply to my interactions with my grade nines. Firstly, following the example of Laverne Cox I can strive to be a role model. Laverne Cox is an icon that many young people such as myself seek inspiration from. I hope to live my life in a way that my grade nines also look up to me. Secondly, just as Laverne Cox is, I hope to be more confident and firm in my beliefs. I am a shy person and I tend to get overwhelmed in groups of people, or when my beliefs are challenged. I hope to gain more confidence, and show my grade nines how important it is to be confident themselves. Finally, from Laverne Cox I can learn how to educate my grade nines on important issues without overwhelming them. Laverne Cox has provided a convenient and non-threatening way into activism through her acting career. I hope to also present information to my grade nines in ways that aren't overwhelming and interest them. For example, with my grade nine that likes sports, I could help him with math by giving him examples that involve sports.
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