By Bob Vitale

Phylicia Mitchell with partner Shane Mitchell. She was killed Friday outside her home in Cleveland. (Photos via Facebook)

“Grateful to have lived another day,” Phylicia Mitchell wrote in December above a Facebook post titled, “I Am a Strong Woman.”

“Everything that’s hit me in life, I’ve dealt with,” it read. “I’ve cried myself to sleep, picked myself back up and wiped my tears. I’ve grown from things that were meant to break me.I get stronger by the day, and have God to thank for that.”

The 46-year-old, who left a family that didn’t accept her as transgender and found three decades of love and partnership in her adopted hometown of Cleveland, was killed Friday outside her home on the city’s West Side.

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Her longtime partner, Shane Mitchell, told The Plain Dealer that he thinks Phylicia’s death was drug-related, but the newspaper reported that police haven’t talked about a motive.

Phylicia Mitchell is the fifth transgender American murdered in 2018. She is the ninth transgender Ohioan murdered in the last five years and the fifth transgender woman killed in Cleveland during that time:

• JoJo Striker, 23, Toledo, February 2017
• Brandi Bledsoe, 32, Cleveland, October 2016
• Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28, Columbus, August 2016
• Bri Golec, 22, Akron, February 2015 (Golec was gender-fluid)
• Tiffany Edwards, 28, Cincinnati, June 2014
• Betty Skinner, 52, Cleveland, December 2013
• Brittany-Nicole Kidd-Stergis, 22, Cleveland, December 2013
• Cemia “Ce Ce” Dove, 20, Cleveland, January 2013

Shane Mitchell told The Plain Dealer that his family, too, disapproved of the couple’s relationship when he first met Phylicia, but her kindness and good humor soon won them over.

They endured homelessness together, and both battled drug addiction.

“That’s my soul mate,” he said. “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.”


Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.