NORWALK - For many teens, coming of age can be daunting.
Kylar Maldonado says he carries himself with confidence -- today. But that comes after years of turmoil.
"That's Maize, my mom's favorite daughter," he says, pointing to a picture of a young girl. "That's me -- younger."
Maldonado, who was designated female at birth, says the pink purse never felt right.
Before beginning his transition, he decided to come out as a gay female. He says it led to bullying, depression and self-harm.
"People treated me like I was nothing," he says. "I felt like I was going to kill myself, so I put myself in the hospital."
While at rock-bottom, Maldonado penned a six-page letter describing how uncomfortable it felt to be stuck in a girl's body. He wasn't gay, he wrote. He was a boy.
Now, Maldonado is working with doctors to transition physically and mentally, and says he has the acceptance of his family.
He says he also draws strength from artists expressing themselves as transgender people online.