Thomas’s recognition relatively early in college that she wanted to transition, and the fact that she commenced hormone therapy during the summer, enabled her to navigate the window enabled by the NCAA rules in effect at the time where others may not have.
That is not all that is unusual about her situation, though. The other quirk is that she happens to be very, very fast for a collegiate swimmer—when compared with the men she used to compete against. Thomas posted the 32nd fastest 1,650-yard freestyle time in the nation for men during her sophomore season in 2018-19. In the 1,000-yard freestyle, she was ranked 18th.
Nobody would give a shit if she wasn't good, and most trans athletes are worse than their peers and as such you don't get a media uproar about them, -remember that one olympic weightlifter who was supposed to wreck the competition according to the press, who proceeded to fail to make it past the first round?
now it seems that the ncaa have changed their rules to make sure that no college transfem athlete will be able to compete effectively (>3 years of hrt required and testosterone upper limits that many cisgender athletes exceed), and lia thomas is widely mocked, called a man, and turned into a prop for the culture war - and for what, the integrity of women's college sports? when have you ever seen anybody who doesn't participate or have a family member participate in women's college sports ever care about it? but suddenly when the tranny wins an award, everybody starts writing thinkpieces
it comes from an ultimately sexist attitude where women are inherently inferior and need their own little flower garden to play in, while the men do the real athletics over in stadium -this is one of the many reasons why nobody complaining about this has ever considered trans men, who are forced to play against women even though they are literally taking testosterone which is significantly more unfair than the reverse