U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has concluded that a 1964 federal civil rights law does not protect transgender employees from discrimination.

In a memo issued Thursday to all federal prosecutors, Sessions asserts that “Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

This “conclusion of law, not policy” will be the department's position in all “pending and future matters,” he added.

Department of Justice spokesperson Devin O'Malley said in a statement that “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided.”

“Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today's action. This department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” O'Malley said.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder had reached the opposite conclusion.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement that Sessions is “dead wrong on the law.”

“Courts have repeatedly ruled that transgender people are protected by sex discrimination laws in employment, education, housing and healthcare. We'll see him in court,” Keisling said.