President Donald Trump believes he did the military a favor with his July announcement banning transgender people from serving in the armed forces.
The president made the comment from his New jersey golf course Aug. 10, The Hill reported.
"I have great respect for the community," Trump said, according to The Hill. "I think I had great support, or I had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes. It's been a very complicated issue for the military, it's been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I'm doing the military a great favor."
His comments come following his announcement via Twitter in July that he had cancelled plans to open up the military to transgender recruits.
"After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military," Trump tweeted.
The decision provoked protests from a number of retired generals and also Republicans in the Senate.
Five transgender people serving in the military have initiated legal action against Trump's ban. The anonymous plaintiffs from the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard are suing Trump and other officials. They argue that many transgender people declared themselves after the military said they would be able to serve and they now face uncertainty.
"My experience has been positive and I am prouder than ever to continue to serve," one transgender woman said, according to the BBC. "I am married and have three children, and the military has been my life. But now, I'm worried about my family's future."
The suit, which also names Defense Secretary James Mattis as a defendant, was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.
Shannon Minter of the NCLR said that many transgender troops have served for over 20 years and fought in Iraq.
"The president's mistreatment of these dedicated troops will serve only to weaken and [demoralize] our armed forces," he added.
Formal steps to enforce the ban have not yet been taken.
According to the Rand Corporation, there are around 4,000 transgender people serving in the military. Some campaigners say the true figure is more than 10,000.
Opposition to the ban has also come from House Democrats, more than 50 of whom urged Mattis to reject it.
"As members of Congress with an abiding interest in our nation's military and its policies towards the LGBTQ community, we write to not only express our strong opposition to President Trump's recent tweets seeking to ban transgender individuals from the military, but to remind you not to comply with any unconstitutional directive," the 53 Democrats wrote in a letter to Mattis, according to Fox News.