“I’m very honored that my record is nominated. But I don’t know if I feel [at] home there right now,” Morris told the Los Angeles Times about how she’s feeling in the wake of publicly calling out fellow country star Jason Aldean‘s wife Brittany over her transphobic statements.
“So many people I love will be in that room, and maybe I’ll make a game-time decision and go,” Morris, 32, said. “But as of right now, I don’t feel comfortable going. I kind of feel peaceful at the notion of not going.”
The Aldean feud was sparked on Aug. 23 when Brittany Aldean wrote, “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,” as the caption to a before-and-after makeup video set to Beyoncé’s 2006 song “Upgrade U”; Beyoncé is known to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Husband Jason left a laughing emoji in the comments and replied, “Lmao!! Im glad they didn’t too, cause you and I wouldn’t have worked out.”
Brittany Aldean continued in an Instagram Story three days later, offering up more unsolicited thoughts on transgender youth and their rights to gender-affirming care. “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. “I will always support my children and do what I can to protect their innocence. The other day Memphis wanted to be a dinosaur and tomorrow Navy will want to be a cat. They’re children. 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.”
Morris was among the country singers who posted pointed responses to Brittany Aldean’s comments, writing, “It’s so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human? Sell your clip-ins and zip it, Insurrection Barbie.” Her reply sparked comment from Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, who referred to the singer as a “lunatic,” while wishing that she “leaves country music immediately.”
The latter didn’t bother Morris one bit. “I’ll wear that as a badge of honor,” she told the Times. In fact, Morris did more than speak up, she also acted, raising more than $150,000 for Trans Lifeline and GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program with a T-shirt that proclaimed “Lunatic Country Music Person.” Brittany Aldean later released her own merch that read “Don’t tread on our kids” in Barbie font, claiming on Instagram that her words were “taken out of context.”
The singer said she didn’t run her response tweet by anyone first, adding that she hates feeling like she has to be the “hall monitor of treating people like human beings in country music. It’s exhausting … But there’s a very insidious culture of people feeling very comfortable being transphobic and homophobic and racist, and that they can wrap it in a joke and no one will ever call them out for it. It just becomes normal for people to behave like that.”
That simmering, underlying culture of hate-filled speech has “always sort of been there” in country music Morris said, “but I feel like it got worse during [former president] Trump — which are all the years that I’ve been on a major label and active, since 2016. That’s when everything got worse — irreparable, almost.” To be clear, Morris added, she’s not a victim and she doesn’t think Brittany Aldean is either. But she has a hard time accepting “humans being made fun of for questioning their identity, especially kids.”
Though the Times writer gave Morris props for using the creative phrase “Insurrection Barbie” in referring to Brittany Aldean, Morris said “there’s a lot worse things I could’ve called her,” noting that any resistance movement is “not done with kind words.” Morris also emphasized that “your disinformation matters” — pointing to a Boston hospital that recently had a bomb threat over false rhetoric about its transgender treatment program — and that she thinks its “so s—-y for the parents that are going through that right now to make a joke out of it. Suicide rates are so high because of hateful bulls–t like that. I don’t care if it’s a joke. But they don’t want to talk about that part because it’s too real.”
For the record, Arlington, Texas-bred Morris said she has “a ton of family” and people she’s grown up with who are conservative and watch Carlson’s show, but even they’ve all reached out and said “we’re on your side.”
In a recent chat with Brandi Carlile, Morris said the out and proud “Broken Horses” singer told her that “it does feel like there are two country musics” now, which Maren said should have broken her heart.
“But I was actually really relieved and encouraged to hear it,” she said. “It made me feel like, OK, country music on this mainstream level absolutely could be two things, and I’ve been trying to make it one, and maybe I should stop. I don’t know if Brandi meant it to be a positive, but I took it as one. It was like a pressure release.”