In Our Own Words: a series of blog posts exploring why we wrap, and how it makes us feel, in the words of our wrap sisters and siblings.
Wrapping is typically associated with cisgender religious women, but there are a number of non binary and trans women in our community too. Wrapping is often part of a person's identity, and so there can be an interaction between that and gender identity.
Today we speak to some of our siblings who are non binary, and look at how that affects wrapping. We are delighted to share the thoughts and feelings of this segment of our community. We also hope that by sharing these comments, it may help other people who are considering wearing a headscarf but are concerned how that may interact with their gender identity.
Thank you to Kshni, Alex, Emily, M and Jess for sharing with us.
Is there any intersection with being non-binary/trans and wrapping? Does it make you more or less likely to wrap? Have you encountered any difficulties because of this?
Kshni: I’m non-binary; but I pass as female. I have seen transphobia in some of the wrapping groups. Wrapping is a personal statement, whatever that statement might be. I wrap when I’m in the mood to do so; I acknowledge the privilege of wrapping being a voluntary act, rather than some dogmatic or legal requirement. Wrapping has no bearing at all on my femininity; I don’t feel feminine when wrapped.
However, some people misgender me, and that is frustrating; or they think I’ve stopped being non-binary trans because I’ve wrapped and dressed "feminine" (clothes have no gender, stop assigning gender constructs to clothes!). (Kinda like some people thinking one has stopped being pansexual because one married someone of another sex and gender; one is still pansexual.)
Alex: I converted to Islam, and from almost the beginning I knew I wanted to cover. Even though I am non-binary, I do lean towards feminine presentation, so the prescriptions of behavior and covering for women appealed to me more so than the men's. I consider my covering and behavior to be gender neutral, despite what others may assume when looking at me.
When I first converted I tried to find what appeared to me to be "gender neutral" styles. I actually found quite a few that I still consider gender neutral, but I learned that as a non-binary person, any style I wear is gender neutral, despite what others may see. Some of the more gender neutral styles also covered less than others, and I'm not always comfortable wearing them. A lot of people may think that my covering had something to do with my agab [assigned gender at birth], but it absolutely doesn't, and it is 100% based on my own comfortabilty and expression.
Being a convert, I never used to think much about modesty. But once I began dressing modest, I realized how much more comfortable I was in how I dressed. I used to avoid dressing feminine even though it was the way I wanted to present, because I felt so uncomfortable; I would tell people it was because I didn't feel I could present feminine and still be gender neutral to the stranger's eye. Now I know that most femininity is far more comfortable for me, and I don't actually care about appearing gender neutral as much as I thought.
Emily: It's only since I started wrapping that I really began to examine my own gender - I've always identified as a cis woman without much thought, but I lean more now toward nonbinary. Wrapping is definitely part of this journey. It's helped me realize that outside assumptions truly have no bearing on who I am as a person, and that I'm not obligated to answer to anyone for my own choices or identities.
Being queer, I've relied on hairstyles in the past to signal sexuality to certain communities, so I did worry that wrapping might erase that. However, although I may not be visibly signaling queerness through my scarves, wrapping has emboldened me to actually speak about my sexuality instead of relying on subtle visual cues.
M: I am gender fluid, and when I am feeling more masculine I will often wear a hat, cap, or beanie instead of a wrap. I feel a little more feminine when I wrap, and due to being gender fluid there are times I can’t stand how female a wrap makes me seem, so I opt for a cap, hat, or beanie instead. When I’m somewhere in the middle I will often use just a bandana.
Jess: I am genderqueer, though I usually present as more feminine. Wrapping my hair almost always makes me feel more feminine, and I don't have as much interest in covering with more than a hat or bandana when I'm feel more agender.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiences.