The Obama administration is moving forward with federal guidelines to protect transgender workers, the New York Times reported.

The new protections are still a couple of months away, but the administration confirmed Tuesday the groundbreaking nondiscrimination rules will be included in an updated federal handbook for managers and supervisors.

Last week, President Obama signed an executive order extending a handful of benefits for the spouses of gay and lesbian federal workers, but stopped short of including pension and health care benefits. The memorandum also directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to update federal guidelines within the next 90 days.

The National Center for Transgender Equality, a transgender rights group, announced last week that OPM officials had confirmed to them that the new guidelines would include transgender protections.

“[I]t is … clear from our ongoing work with the administration … that it is their intention and commitment that the OPM guidance to be issued in the next 90 days will provide real, robust and meaningful protections for transgender federal employees and job applicants,” the group said in a statement.

“The president is making a very clear statement that transgender people won't be discriminated against,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the paper.

While the president signed the gay federal benefits memo in a very public Oval Office ceremony, officials have been less forthcoming about the new transgender provisions, possibly in an attempt to mollify criticism.

Gay groups have criticized the new federal benefits as too little, too late, while social conservatives decried the measure as approximating marriage.

The president's memo “appears to be a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and clearly violates the spirit of the federal law which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement. “[It] uses taxpayer money to placate an angry portion of his base at the expense of the rule of law. Ironically, Mr. Obama has pursued an aggressive pro-homosexual agenda – but his actions to date are, apparently, insufficient for the radical homosexuals pushing their extreme agenda.”

“Barack Obama's order … attempts to elevate relationships outside of marriage as if they are the same as marriage,” Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright said in a statement. “Federal funds should not be a political tool to elevate partner arrangements to be treated similar to marriage.”

OPM Director John Berry, the administration's highest-ranking openly gay official, denied the administration and his department were attempting to conceal its work on the transgender protections.

“There's been no attempt to hide or be coy,” he told the New York Times Tuesday.

“I was aware coming into this job that this was a class of people for whom it was not clear that they were protected from discrimination, and I thought it was an opportunity to clarify that,” he said.

“[T]hey [transgender people] deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” Berry added.