Sometimes it really does pay to put it on a t-shirt.
The long holiday weekend held one special surprise no one had on their Labor Day bingo card: Marren Morris raised $100,000 for trans youth by mocking a weak dig by Tucker Carlson. The Fox News airbag did a segment on his show about Morris’ feud with Brittany Aldean, wife of country singer Jason Aldean, over the legitimacy of transgender youth. During the clip, Carlson labeled Morris a “lunatic” and a “fake country music singer.” Morris didn’t bat a country queen eyelash at the insult, and instead turned around and put it on a t-shirt, alongside the Peer Support and Crisis Hotline for trans youth, with all of the proceeds benefitting TransLifeline and the GLAAD Transgender Media Program.
The drama began when Brittany Aldean woke up on August 23 and decided it was a beautiful day to spread hate. She posted an Instagram video of a glam-up with the transphobic caption, “I’d really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life.” The dangerous and hateful remarks immediately sparked backlash online. Marren Morris then rode in to represent the faction of the country music industry that stands up for what’s right.
The Voice alum Cassadee Pope wrote on Twitter, “You'd think celebs with beauty brands would see the positives in including LGBTQ+ people in their messaging. But instead here we are, hearing someone compare their ‘tomboy phase’ to someone wanting to transition. Real nice.” Morris replied to the Tweet, “It’s so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human? Sell your clip-ins and zip it, Insurrection Barbie.” Zing.
Aldean didn’t take the criticism quietly, though. Later that day, she went on her Instagram Story to continue her vitriolic comments. “Advocating for the genital mutilation of children under the disguise of love and calling it ‘gender affirming care,’ is one of the worst evils,” she said. “The other day [son] Memphis wanted to be a dinosaur, and tomorrow [daughter] Navy will want to be a cat. They’re children.” She concluded, “Some parents want to be accepted by society so badly, that they’re willing to make life-altering decisions for their children who aren’t old enough to fully comprehend the consequences of those actions. ... Thankful my parents allowed me to go through my tom boy phase without changing my gender. Until then, leave children alone!”
Morris clapped back in her own Instagram story. “Y'all have been so sweet and supportive today of me and Cassadee. I will say, we can handle this shit,” she said. “We have dealt with idiots for years saying insanely stupid stuff at us, but I would check on your trans friends, check on your gay friends, anyone that is in country music and had to look at that bullshit today and feel subhuman.” She continued to thank her fans again for their love and support, adding, “I didn't really think I woke up and chose violence today. I was like, I'm so sick of looking at absolute horse shit on the internet and people getting away with it -- much less being celebrated for it.”
Since the dust-up, celebs like Jonathan Van Ness, Brandi Carlisle, and Glennon Doyle have weighed in, and Morris’s and Aldean’s respective husbands both backed their wives publicly. Aldean commented “MY Barbie,” on Brittany’s subsequent Instagram post — a reference to Morris’ Insurrection Barbie dig. While Ryan Hurd, Morris’ husband, wrote on Twitter, “Getting a lot of people telling me our career is over, as if the last time she spoke up about something it disappeared. Honestly, we’re pretty ok over here. Tours are good, got a 2 year old we love, we’re fucking fine, and I promise she isn’t going to shut up now.”
Morris shared over the holiday weekend that her shirts have raised $100,000 for TransLifeline and the GLAAD Transgender Media Program. Meanwhile, Brittany has tried to get in on the t-shirt game herself, making her own that says in the Barbie font “Don’t tread on our kids,” with proceeds benefitting Operation Light Shine “to help fight child exploitation and human trafficking.” She can try and shill out all the cheeky, hateful merch she wants, but it didn’t stop veteran Nashville PR firm The GreenRoom from dropping Jason Aldean after 17 years of representation. Co-owner Tyne Parrish said in a statement to Billboard, “We aren't the best people for the gig anymore.” Guess it doesn’t pay to be a raging transphobe.