Phylicia Mitchell, 45, was shot to death Friday in Cleveland.
Mitchell, a transgender woman, was shot in the chest about 6 p.m. outside her home in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood, reports Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Mitchell’s longtime partner, Shane Mitchell, told the newspaper that she was “a good person” and that their relationship endured through numerous hardships.
Shane and Phylicia considered themselves husband and wife although they never legally married. They did have an unofficial ceremony last May in which she took his last name. “We had a few friends come, some of her family,” he said. “It was awesome.”
The two had met about 30 years ago, after Phylicia ran away from Pittsburgh and a family her partner called “dysfunctional.” Part of the dysfunction, Shane Mitchell told The Plain Dealer, was her family’s unwillingness to accept her as a woman.
In the beginning of their relationship, his family and some other friends were not supportive, but eventually Phylicia charmed them, he told the newspaper. “Everyone loved her,” he said. “My nieces and nephews opened up to her so much. She was just so funny and kind.”
He said their bond even strengthened through hard times, including periods of homelessness. Phylicia worked as a hairstylist, and Shane did odd jobs.
“I miss her tremendously,” he said. “That’s my soul mate. We went together everywhere. We did everything together. We always held hands on the bus. Years ago people didn’t respect that, but they do now.”
Mitchell and Zakaria Fry of Albuquerque, N.M., whose body was found February 19 after she had been missing for a month, are the fifth and sixth transgender homicide victims reported in the U.S. this year. There were 27 trans murders reported in 2017, matching 2016 as the deadliest year on record for trans Americans. In any given year, there are likely more murders of trans people, given that many are misgendered by police and media or their deaths not reported at all.