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As far as I know, the part of the brain that develops in your 20's is the frontal cortex, which is responsible for 'executive mental processes' (i.e. long-term planning).
I checked out the NPR article, and I think that the parents in that case, and in any case, should treat lightly, and possibly even reconsider their decision to switch pronouns and names. That is a huge step that can reinforce an identity that might be based on superficial, childish feelings that will not carry on over time.
Kids can say and do things for reasons that adults tend to overlook. A child who seems very happy that their parents are involving them in non-traditional gender roles & activities might simply be reacting positively to the extra attention. In that same vein, a child who seems upset about their gender might simply be reacting to newly discovered gender stereotypes.
If they were mocked or told off because they were participating in non-traditional behavior, chances are they were given an explanation along the lines of "because you're a 'insert sex here''.
But kids don't really understand what that means, or how vast its implications are. They probably think that it's merely an arbitrary rule that is limiting what they are allowed to do. Gender roles are understandably frustrating, but they alone are not a reason to transition.
For example, a young boy who likes to play with dolls and wear skirts might end up transitioning, or they might just end up as a man who likes to put on makeup and wear dresses. It's really hard (impossible, I think) to distinguish between these two possibilities at a young age.
This is why recognizing gender dysphoria is so important. It's usually a much more outwardly obvious symptom that adults can diagnose, and I think it should be the deciding factor in determining whether or not a child should transition.
It can sometimes take over an hour for me to fall asleep, so I've developed some strict rules. About an hour before bed, I'll set my alarm on my phone, have a big glass of water, and then cut off all screen usage. No internet, no TV, no phone, nothing. I also avoid eating or doing strenuous activity.
If I was just looking at a screen, I'll take a nice, slow walk. If the weather isn't conducive to that, I'll do some easy stretches and yoga poses. I used to listen to music as well, but I've found that some good old peace & quiet is better for helping me wind down.
Afterwards, I brush my teeth, take a piss, and head to bed.
One thing that helps tremendously is f.lux. It's a program that slightly changes the hue and brightness of your computer screen depending on the time of day. It's seriously magnificent!
I thought it was one of Pixar's best movies. It made me cry a lot. Naturally, the movie is incredibly symbolic and metaphorical, since it takes place in the mind, so I thought it was interesting that each person had a different emotion in charge. Sadness was at the forefront of the mind of Riley's mom, while Anger gave out orders in the mind of her dad. I thought it was also clever that the emotions in her parents were all coordinated and dressed the same, while Riley's emotions all had their own unique style.
The most amazing part of the film, for me, was when Sadness began to take center stage. It was an eye-opening moment, and Joy really put my feelings into words when she began to have the same epiphany as me about the importance of sadness.
Upon further reflection, though, I realized that each emotion serves a similar purpose in the sense that it helps people gather support in different situations. This NY Times article that theNiliad shared elaborates a bit on this, and mentions that Anger is what helps people come together against injustice or unfairness. But each emotion helps people come together in different ways. This is my take on it: Joy can help people come together in support of something exciting and fun. Sadness helps people come together over grief and loss. Fear can help people come together against something new and potentially dangerous. Disgust can help people come together and collectively avoid toxic and unhealthy people, places, and objects.
It's unfortunate that we couldn't see the full gamut of emotions that are running the show in reality, but that would've probably turned into a TV sitcom rather than an hour-and-a-half long kids movie.
Looks like I have NO idea how the formatting works on this site. Sorry, everyone. I just started using this site today.
As a trans women, I feel obligated to provide my perspective. This is an incredibly complex issue, and I will not be able to discuss all of the different aspects of it. While I do think it's important to understand that the experience of every trans person is different, generally speaking, being trans is not like being gay, lesbian, or bi. There is a lot more going on. (There are some trans people who don't suffer from gender dysphoria, but for the purposes of this comment, I'm going to sidestep them and the issues they raise)
Most people know that your brain doesn't finish developing until you are about 25 years old.
To the average person, it stands to reason that the decision to undergo Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is not one that you should be making unless you can appropriately understand the long-term consequences.
Since you can't really do this until your brain finishes developing, it follows logically that you should delay the decision to undergo HRT until this age. But unfortunately, time is working against trans people in this regard, because the physical effects of puberty have long since made their mark by this age.
It's important to realize just how devastating this can be for some trans people. Biological females can develop wide hips & breasts, and will have a smaller rib cage. Biological males can develop broad shoulders & facial hair, and will have a larger rib cage. These traits will be finished developing long before the brain does.
What may seem like wonderful, normal, or perhaps mildly annoying traits for cis people can be a source of crippling, incurable stress, anxiety, and/or depression (more often referred to as 'gender dysphoria') for trans people. This can, and frequently does, lead to suicide for trans people.
Some of these effects of puberty cannot be reversed without undergoing extremely expensive, and potentially unsafe medical procedures. These procedures are considered "cosmetic" by virtually all insurance companies, which means you must pay for them out-of-pocket. Many trans people cannot afford them. Other effects cannot be reversed at all with current medical technology.
As coffeesp00ns mentioned, puberty blockers can delay these effects to give the child more time to seriously introspect and weigh their feelings against the reality of transitioning.
But this treatment, and its availability, can have unintended consequences.
The social repercussions of delaying puberty can be very serious (teenagers can be really mean), and unsupportive parents can use puberty blockers to buy more time for them to try to convince or coerce their children into taking a path that they will later regret.
Providing children with unbiased information about gender dysphoria is vital in that it builds confidence in trans children who are not confused or in denial about their gender dysphoria, which helps them get the treatment they need by standing up to adult figures who would claim to know better and suggest alternative treatments. But it is also vital to helping children who would otherwise fail to recognize their symptoms.
Information about gender dysphoria needs to be provided repeatedly, both early on and later when children are on the verge of starting puberty, because confidence is a hell of a thing that can take a lot to build up, and denial is a hell of a thing that can take a lot to overcome.
Trans people, and their parents/guardians, can struggle to come to terms with the fact that their gender dysphoria is a symptom of a disorder that can only be treated with HRT. This is especially true in light of the fact that gender dysphoria is something that virtually always worsens with age; This is why you see older people transitioning instead of simply continuing to cope in other ways.
I say this as someone who had OBVIOUS dysphoria as a child and teenager, but failed to recognize it until the age of 22. I was able to do this only as a result of the information I found online through /r/asktransgender on Reddit.
I suffered many consequences as a result of my denial, although I should count myself lucky in that I did not commit suicide despite a frequently overwhelming desire to do so. Many trans people are not so lucky.
Tl;dr: Puberty can be DEADLY for trans children, but puberty blockers should be a last resort for children who are still unsure of their gender identity after repeatedly receiving information about gender dysphoria.
Parents/guardians and doctors should not casually consider a treatment that undermines the feelings and social development of children that are already struggling to comes to terms with an extremely difficult decision.