President Donald Trump’s administration has begun to push back against the cultural iconoclasts who have been calling for a ban on transgender people serving in the military.
A number of the country’s most recognizable cultural icons have been accused of perpetuating harmful stereotypes, including singer Madonna and actress Susan Sarandon.
In March, Trump signed a memorandum banning transgender people from serving in military and providing that individuals who do not conform to traditional gender roles can still be assigned at birth to gender-neutral or gender-variant roles.
It is not yet clear how many transgender individuals currently serve in the armed forces, but the White House has pushed back on the idea that this represents a huge increase.
The memorandum’s impact has been felt most acutely among the transgender military service members, according to an article in The New York Times published on Wednesday.
“The new directive will do far more to damage the military than to enhance it,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time.
“It is the military’s duty to protect the nation, not to undermine it.”
The Trump administration has also proposed a new rule that would restrict the military from providing transgender people with medical care that does not match their biological sex, which has sparked protests from those who have called for the ban.
In April, Trump issued a new directive that would block transgender individuals from serving on the military if they are not “gender-confirming” in a medical exam or are otherwise not in compliance with their gender identity.
Trump’s directive would also make it a crime for transgender individuals to serve openly in the United States.
The directive is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups, including the National Center for Transgender Equality, which said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “disappointed” by the new rule.
“We’re disappointed that the Trump administration is moving forward with its dangerous policy that will make it easier for our transgender service members to discriminate against our friends and families,” Mara Keisling, the director of the NCTE, told The New Yorker in an interview.
“I hope this administration will heed our warning that this is a dangerous, unconstitutional step that would undermine the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution.”