I'm very excited to hear about your column here on ST, and wanted to say thanks for sharing this first post and piece about people touching your hair. It makes me wonder about the possible connections to all sorts of other ways that people ignore boundaries and cross lines around touch and bodies.
I'm thinking of friends who, as soon as they are visibly pregnant, get touched by strangers. I'm thinking of disabled friends who are always being touched, patted on the head, getting some strangers hand on their shoulder, some stranger touching their wheelchair. I'm also thinking of the ways that some folks think nothing of asking other people about their genitals, because they presume they must look different than their own. Because I'm white and read as both straight and gender normative, and because I talk about sex for a living, I'm usually on the receiving end of the people who do this asking me why others have such a problem with it. They're "just curious", they'll say. Often where I turn for help with this is Eli Clare's work on gawking.
Like everything we do, we could look at these actions as individual transgressions, or expressions of racism, abelism, sexism, and all manner of queer-phobia. But are they similar? I don't know. Certainly the way you describe your response to people touching your hair or asking to touch it feels similar to others responses to unwanted/unwelcome touch. But maybe it's just one of these things we don't talk about enough in big groups, so the responses feel the same when they aren't.
I'm not really suggesting something here, just appreciating your post and sharing what it made me think of. Thanks again, Cory